Interview with Steve Diercks
By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater
It would be difficult to think of a father-and-son team more involved in the Wisconsin potato and vegetable growing industry than Steve and Andy Diercks. There are others, and perhaps those just as dedicated, but the Diercks family and Coloma Farms Inc. have been an industry institution, serving and having served on numerous boards as lifelong supporters of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA).
When Andy was elected president of the WPVGA, in 2002, he became the fourth generation in his family to serve in that position. Steve served as WPVGA president, in 1989; his father, Robert Diercks, was president from 1975-’76; and Robert’s father, Ben H. Diercks, was the Association’s first president in 1948-’49.
In 2013, Steve was the third generation inducted into the WPVGA Hall of Fame, which honors lifetime achievement in the development of the state’s potato industry, following his father and grandfather.
Highly regarded for their support of industry research, particularly on sustainability and conservation issues, Steve, Andy and Coloma Farms have been active participants in the Healthy Grown program.
A partnership between the WPVGA, University of Wisconsin (UW) College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, World Wildlife Fund, International Crane Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife, Healthy Grown farmers improve potato production using environmentally sound practices.
Steve was instrumental in arranging industry financing for the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Storage Research Facility at the Hancock Agricultural Research Station, and he has made his own farm available to UW scientists for countless field studies.
As a tribute to his father who began the effort, he worked tirelessly raising funds for the establishment of a potato research endowment known as the Wisconsin Potato Industry Distinguished Fellowship at UW-Madison.
Proudly hanging in the Coloma Farms office among other plaques are two environmental stewardship awards received from state and national organizations.