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FARM SCENE: Fourth-Generation Farmers Call it Quits

September 4, 1996

JEFFERSON, Wis. (AP) _ After surviving a bout with stray voltage more than a decade ago, a fourth-generation family of dairy farmers has said goodbye to dairying.

Tom and Kathy Beane auctioned off their 100-plus Holsteins last week, marking the end of an era at Holwis Farm in the town of Jefferson.

``There’s getting to be real quiet times around here now. There was always a cow bellowing or a metal gate clanging,″ said Tom Beane. ``This is the first weekend we’ve had in 15 years that we haven’t had to work.″

Originally owned by the grandparents of Laura Beane, Tom’s mother, Holwis Farm had been in operation since 1864.

Tom and Kathy Beane entered into a partnership with his father, Craig Beane, in 1965, and the two maintained a productive and healthy dairy farming business for years. However, Beane said now is the right time to step down and explore different avenues.

``My goal was to slow down when I was 50. I guess it’s happening a little earlier than I had intended,″ he said. ``We’re not going anywhere, though, we’re still going to cash-crop.″

As with many other businesses, farming is not always easy. Tom and Craig found that out in 1983 when their cattle fell victim to stray voltage. The problem, blamed on electric voltage traveling through metallic equipment, such as piping, affects livestock in adverse ways.

``It took us about a year and a half to resolve it, but once we got the problem resolved, it was like having a whole new herd of cows,″ he said.

Since then, farmers experiencing similar problems have been contacting the Beanes. Tom has been in courtrooms and legislative halls nationwide helping people fight against stray voltage.

Without any children to take over the reins at Holwis Farm, Beane said, it was time to change his ways.

``If I had boys that were interested in taking over the farm, it would be a different situation,″ he said.

The Beanes own 535 acres of land and rent 400 more acres. They will continue to work the farm since ``there is life after dairy cows,″ Mrs. Beane said.

``In this day and age, change occurs. Why should we work ourselves to death?″

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The interest rate on federal farm commodity loans disbursed this month has dropped one-eighth of a percentage point.

The Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corp. said the rate for prior-year crop loans is 5.75 percent. The rate for loans on 1996 crops is 6.75 percent.

The rates are based on what it costs CCC to borrow from the federal treasury.