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Farm Aid Bus Tour: Family farmers adjusting to stay competitive

JANESVILLE (WKOW) — Most farmers face challenges but they’re determined to find solutions to keep their farms running. The Hughes family farm in Janesville is staying competitive in the industry by growing unique crops and using new technology. 

The Hughes invested in plant breeding, organic crops, genetic programming and reducing bacteria in their fields. Whildon Hughes said once he took over the family business he knew they had to stand out against the rest.

“There aren’t as many people doing blue corn, organic sunflowers, or those sorts of things so it’s just like any other business if you’re not following the flock you can do a little better,” said Hughes.

Just last year they also began growing industrial hemp an industry expected to reach over $13 billion by 2026.

“Hemp is as unique as it gets,” he said. “Ours is organic and we have some high-quality stuff to once again to set ourselves apart.”

Hughes says going against the grain helps a lot, especially during a year when the weather has hurt other farmers.

“Really seems as our growing season windows getting tighter and tighter our area keeps getting wetter and wetter.”

He says adjusting to changing conditions and planning ahead helps him stay open. 

“You do that all the time, you’re harvesting other fields because one is going down, one has mold, it’s what we do, it’s just part of the life.”

Dozens of people took part in the Farm Aid bus tours which traveled across Wisconsin to offer an authentic opportunity to visit farmers, their operations and to bring awareness to struggling farmers.

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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