American Snapshot: Wisconsin farmer turns to robotics amid shortages

Midwest

(NewsNation) — In a new franchise called American Snapshot, “Morning in America” will highlight everyday people across the country. First up is Greg Vollmer, a sixth-generation farmer and owner of Midlakes Custom Services, which harvests crops for dairy farms in northwestern Wisconsin.

Vollmer says farming in recent years has been a struggle amid supply chain shortages, inflation and now the war in Ukraine.

“It’s been a challenge. Looking back, if we would if we had a crystal ball, we’d have done everything different,” he said. “We just have to try to manage our risk as much as possible with what what we have today and hopefully mother nature helps us out.”

But thanks to technology Vollmer has gotten help but he says he needs more.

“A lot of our equipment has GPS, which is basically hands-free. The tractors can pull in … It’ll drive by itself,” Vollmer told NewsNation. “At this point, we still need the operator sitting in the seat to make sure everything is working as it should. So we don’t have unmanned vehicles yet, but we’re getting very close.”

He says his business is staffed “enough to function,” but employee shortage woes have only added to the supply chain ones.

“This is a time of year, we’re ramping up for our busy season. We’ve been trying to find a couple extra people to add to the staff. For the first time in a long time we haven’t really found anybody,” Vollmer said. “We’re in uncharted territory.”

Through it all, Vollmer remains optimistic about the future of the farming industry.

“We’ll figure out how to make this work. I think automation coming is going to be huge for all industry,” he said.

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