Chad Sime, 38, sits on his porch at his farm near Gays Mills. Sime supported President Trump in 2016, but is not sure whether he will do so again come November. Sime said his main concerns were those that enabled his ability to raise a family in Crawford County, but that COVID-19 seems to be the main talking point this election. He’s dissatisfied with the messaging on the virus from both parties. “I feel like it’s politicized from the standpoint that both parties are manipulating that for a platform, he said. “To me that’s the frustrating part. I feel like it’s been blown up too much in some ways and not enough in others.” Photo by Caroline Kubzansky.
Nancy Ashmore, 67, is the director of the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library. She grew up on a dairy farm and has watched the agricultural landscape in Crawford County shift over her lifetime. “Because this is a rural community, anything that affects farmers affects the community,” Ashmore said. “And many have gone out of business, many are balancing on a financial knife edge. I’m living on the farm I grew up on, but most of the land is rented out. My dad is 92 years old and none of the rest of us were interested in milking cows.” Photo by Caroline Kubzansky.
Matt Achenbach, 36, stands with his cows just outside Eastman. He’s concerned about the dwindling number of family-operated farms in the area. “It costs too much money to go out and buy an operation,” Achenbach said. “Your debt load is going to be so big it’s ridiculous. You almost have to inherit it. And that’s where family farms are becoming extinct, becoming corporations, everything’s just getting bigger. I’d like to see a small farm, one family operation not have to hire anyone, be able to work by itself.” Achenbach said he’ll be voting for Trump. Photo by Caroline Kubzansky.
Outside Olson Feed Service, near Seneca. Tammy Olson, 54, said the business hasn’t suffered too much due to the pandemic — “animals still need to eat” — but they’ve had to plan for disrupted supply chains and longer wait times to get particular products. She and her husband are the third generation to run their farm and plan to pass it down to their son, Ben. However, they don’t know how he will need to adapt the business to keep it viable. “We are able to make a living and our son would be the fourth generation, but we continually worry,” said Olson, who was critical of Trump. “We added the grain warehouse to be more diverse. What will he have to do to make a living for him and his family? We had to discontinue dairy, bring on beef, and add a grain warehouse.” Photo by Caroline Kubzansky.