Interview with J.D. Schroeder
By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater
One of the largest Frito-Lay seed potato producers in the country, Schroeder Brothers Farms, Inc. of Antigo, Wisconsin, was originally homesteaded and founded in 1879.
The certified and foundation seed potato operation has evolved exponentially since it began with a few dairy cows and some crops to feed the family and animals.
Diversification is the name of the game, and Schroeder Bros. Farms, a four-time winner of Frito-Lay’s “Seed Grower of the Year” award, has it in spades.
“In the late 1980’s, we grew around 250 acres of Burbank potatoes, and now we only grow 40. We have a lot more acres of chips, russets and reds instead,” says John Diercks “J.D.” Schroeder, a fifth-generation grower and one of several managers at Schroeder Brothers Farms.
“We started growing seed for Frito-Lay, in 1996, and for The Little Potato Company, in 2017,” J.D., who holds a law degree, details.
J.D.’s great-grandpa, Henry Schroeder, and his son, Tom, grew seed potatoes in the 1960’s. When Tom got injured in a snowmobile accident, in 1972, J.D.’s grandpa, John, started working on the farm as well.
“And my father, John T., worked on the farm during high school and college, and became full time circa 1980. His brothers, Pete and Rob, joined the farm in the years after that,” J.D., who is the current president of the Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association Board, relates.