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New members join DATCP board

July 24, 2013 | 0 comments


The changing of the guard has begun on the citizen policy board for the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as three new board members have taken their seats.

Dean Strauss and Dennis Badtke joined the board for its May meeting and newest board member Nicole Hansen took her seat last week for the July meeting of the board. (The board didn’t meet in June.)

The board’s newest member manages 850 acres of cranberries at Cranberry Creek Cranberries, Inc. 15 miles north of Necedah. Hansen was recommended for a seat on the board and got a call from department Secretary Ben Brancel.

"It was a good surprise," she said in an interview after last week’s board meeting.

Hansen grew up on a small dairy farm near Ontario and in college majored in biology and minored in chemistry. She worked as a consultant on a cranberry farm, which led to her current career as manager of the family-owned business where she now works.

She is busy with a variety of business and volunteer activities. Hansen currently serves on the Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association board and chairs the board’s research committee and best management practices group and serves on the education committee.

Hansen also represents the cranberry industry on the National Institute for Sustainable Agriculture Producer board.

Earlier this year the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association presented Hansen with the President’s Award, which honors exceptional served and industry support in assisting the association.

The new board members bring a wide wealth of experience in the state’s dairy industry. All three grew up on dairy farms; two milked cows for many years and one still does.



Dennis Badtke of Rosendale is currently Chief Appraiser for Badgerland Financial. He also raises cash crops along with his brother on their family farm near Rosendale. They had milked 95 cows on that farm as well until 2011.

Brancel said he brings to the table a wide knowledge that serves well the board’s discussions on Farmland Preservation programs, land use programs and many other issues.

Badtke serves on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and serves on the Plan Commission and Board of Appeals for the Town of Springvale in Fond du Lac County.

He is an appointed member of the Fond du Lac County Condemnation Commission and serves as a Council Member and Treasurer of the Rosendale United Church of Christ.

He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from University of Wisconsin-Platteville.



Dean Strauss of Sheboygan Falls is managing partner of Majestic Crossing Dairy, an operation that milks 1,900 cows and farm 3,000 acres dedicated to alfalfa, corn, wheat, and soybeans.

Strauss is past president of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin and previously served on the Wisconsin Beef Council board of directors. Currently, he serves on the Executive Board for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and is the current chair of the Dairy Policy Committee for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau.

He received his Bachelor’s of Animal Science from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

With two ag board meetings now under his belt, Strauss said that he has a new appreciation for the wide breath of things that fall under the guidance of DATCP – everything from pesticide safety issues to landlord-tenant issues and weights and measures accuracy.

Strauss says he grew up milking cows and after graduating from Platteville he became a dairy consultant. In 1998 he went back to his family’s dairy as they were expanding and creating Majestic Meadows Dairy. When the family farm merged with another dairy they changed the name to Majestic Crossing.

That merger, he said, was a good opportunity that has allowed the next generation to take hold in dairying.

"Family is the core management," he said. Strauss and his brother and father are part of that core and one of the partners used to work for his dad. Their herd of 1,900 cows is housed at two facilities near Sheboygan Falls.

Brancel said it’s unusual for three board members to start at the same time, but was made necessary by the early resignation of Pam Garvey who decided to leave early from her seat on the board.



Appointed by Gov. Scott Walker, as were the other two new board members, Hansen has not yet been confirmed by the state Senate, but Brancel said he checked with the Government Accountability Board and officials there said it was acceptable for Hansen to participate in the board’s July 16 meeting in Madison because the chair was vacant.

"If they hadn’t okayed it, she wouldn’t have been at the meeting," Brancel told reporters.

The other new board members are filling seats formerly filled by Enrique Figueroa and Margaret Krome, who both served for their full terms. Badtke serves as the board’s designated consumer protection representative as Krome did.

Brancel said in looking for new board members he solicited input from a wide range of state groups with the intention of getting "gender diversity, commodity diversity and geographic diversity.

"Most of all we are looking for quality people to serve," he added.

Brancel said that originally the board was heavily weighted with people from the southern part of the state and he was striving to get new board members from all parts of the state who are involved in issues that are important at the department.

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