Jahnke Reports On Wisconsin Dairy Issue

“Connecting with our agriculture audience is critical to being a successful farm broadcaster, but it can also have its pitfalls,” said Pam Jahnke (WI Farm Report Radio Network, Madison, WI). She reports that in April, 58 Wisconsin dairy farms of all sizes, got an unsigned, impersonal letter from their dairy processor announcing that as of May 1, they’d no longer have a home for their milk. Canada had revised their milk pricing formula and closed one artery vital for that plant. “As a dairy kid myself, I knew the fear that suddenly struck hearts and minds in those families. So, my job as a journalist kicked in naturally. Call the processor and get their story, call the state and find out what they’re doing, and finally, call those families and find out how they’re handling it.” She added, “What started as a supply glitch turned into a national issue when President Donald Trump said he would ‘defend Wisconsin dairy farmers’ during an appearance in Kenosha, WI. What had been ‘my’ story – turned into everybody’s story. A group of Canadian TV reporters came to Wisconsin to find out why they were getting all the blame – and asked for my help telling the story.” Pam is shown with Paul Hunter, a reporter with Canada’s The National Show.

Wisconsin Ag Secretary, Ben Brancel, (shown being interviewed by Pam) got in the habit of calling her on his way to the office each day. “Seemed like just talking helped ease some of the pressure. I don’t know about other farm broadcasters, but in situations like this, I give people my personal cell phone number with a request to ‘call anytime – day or night – good news or not,’ and they have.” She continues, “And then there’s the families. As I write this, 10 have found a new home for their milk. I’ve gotten emotional calls from them announcing the good news – and thanking me for the help. Really? What did I do but listen. Unfortunately, there’s still 48 multi-generation families that are on a bubble waiting. And that’s a story I’ll ultimately have to tell too, no matter what transpires.” Pam adds, “I believe farm broadcasters sometimes forget how close we are to our audience. We’re at their meetings, their events, their communities, we’re in their lives! We announce the thrilling wins – the new office – the new barn – all the things we love about our rural lives. But then there are times like this when they’re in a battle, and like it or not, it’s your battle too.” Pam was chosen as NAFB Farm Broadcaster of the Year in 2013 and served as NAFB President in 2009.