Schmidt’s Ponderosa, LLC in Bonduel, like many family dairy farms, has changed over the years. The first freestall barn, a double 12 parallel parlor and a barn for special needs cows were built in 1998. Fast forward to today and the farm has undergone several phases of expansion, renovation and building. In 2016, the farm expanded to it’s current status, milking 1,600 cows. Seven Schmidt family members and 20 employees run the dairy. We sat down with Peter Schmidt to discuss his recent election to the Shawano County Board.
DBA: Why did you choose to run for office?
Schmidt’s Ponderosa: I serve as a Shawano County Supervisor for District 14. I was elected in 2018 to a 2-year term. I ran for County Board because I felt a growing disconnect in our community regarding agriculture, immigration and the lack of community involvement. People have forgotten agriculture’s importance to the local economy, protecting our environment and food security. Agriculture provides more than just these basic needs to support the local economy, it provides a steady tax revenue to our local governments. Just like everyone else, farmers have discussions and solve conflicts. You too can make a difference in your community. Remember, all politics are local!
DBA: How did you know where to start?
Schmidt’s Ponderosa: I started small by participating in our community through volunteering and attending local townhall meetings. Eventually, I became a poll worker helping the elections and from there decided to run for my current seat on the county board.
DBA: Would you encourage other farmers to run for office?
Schmidt’s Ponderosa: Running for office is a great way to meet local people and learn together. We all want solutions to our daily conflicts. Farmers are excellent candidates for elected office because things like long-term solutions, compromise and community growth are critical to running a successful farm. Why not put these skills to good use for the community in public office!
DBA: What advice would give someone interested in running for office?
Schmidt’s Ponderosa: Attend the meetings, speak with your local officials and volunteer to help. This gives an insight into how local government works. Speak to family, friends, neighbors and community leaders to see if they can help you get started.
DBA: How are you able to manage your time on the farm and holding public office?
Schmidt’s Ponderosa: Self-discipline is critical to balancing farm life and public office. Having a daily routine and a dedicated workforce makes dreams a reality!
DBA: What have you learned so far?
Schmidt’s Ponderosa: Keeping an open mind and being proactive are two keys that open many opportunities. Running your own campaign, meeting new people and making a difference in the community is priceless.