The Edler Family

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Craig Edler currently sits on the NMPF Board of Directors and is a long-time member of Dairy Farmers of America. He and his wife Katharine operate Cam Cal Kar Dairy Farms, located near Browntown, Wisc. The farm is home to 700 registered Holstein cows, and grows corn and alfalfa on 1,700 acres. In addition to the dairy operation, Craig and Katharine are partners in a custom heifer raising business and milling business, as well as own a custom harvesting and manure pumping businesses. 

What do you like the most and the least about working as a dairy farmer?

Working with cattle has always been my passion. I like to see herd production and genetic improvements through technology and a sound breeding program. I also enjoy working the land and harvesting our crops, especially when the weather cooperates. Our ultimate goal is to produce high quality food for people.

Desk time is my least favorite part of running a business, as well as data entry and paper work, although I do pride myself on attempting to keep accurate records. I have a love-hate relationship with computers. When everything works correctly they’re great, but they quickly become a test of my patience and religion when they don’t. 

Describe how the work is shared or divided up in your family?

I am the general manager of operations, concentrating on the dairy most days. In the fall, the milling business gets very busy. Katharine is the chief financial officer of the dairy and custom businesses. She also does the parlor schedule and payroll while simultaneously taking care of the house, yard, usually a grandkid or two, and/or an aging parent. Our son Cameron manages the harvesting and machinery maintenance.  He also runs the custom manure pumping business. Our daughter Cali oversees the calf and heifer division of our dairy, as well as the heifer farm near Darlington, Wisc. The success of each entity depends on our loyal and hardworking employees. We are incredibly thankful for them.

How do you think your farms business plan will change in the next ten years?

I think the future will bring more regulations and more technology – hopefully to offset or manage the restrictions put in place. Hopefully, Katharine and I will slow down and the next generation will start taking over more. We have three children, seven grandchildren and two almost grandchildren; six of our school-age grandkids are interested in farming. 

During those days when things aren’t going well, what do you do to keep a positive attitude?

In the summer. getting behind the wheel of the haybine is therapeutic for me. There I can usually decompress. Getting a good night’s sleep and saying prayers for guidance and strength are also key for me.  When I have a bad day, playing with my grandkids can cheer me up. Watching the news typically puts my “bad days” into perspective; as long as your family is healthy, most other troubles can be overcome.

What would you be doing if you were not a dairy farmer?

I have always been a dairy farmer, so it’s difficult to imagine doing anything else. If I had to do something else, it would be in a closely related field – perhaps expanding any or all of our current custom operations.