Even if you were not born in Wisconsin, if you've lived here long enough you have a passing familiarity with dairy farms. You may have taken a tour; you undoubtedly know people who grew up on farms; you at least made eye contact with the occasional cow on the Concourse. And you're quite comfortable, while taking countryside rides in the springtime, cracking jokes about our "dairy air."
But the bucolic image you may have about life on the farm is undergoing revision out in the actual countryside, as our cover story this week, "The Fight Against Factory Farms," documents. There's a looming battle in farm country between Wisconsin's traditional family farm operations and the CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), attests author Roger Bybee, a frequent Isthmus contributor in the area of labor and industry. You don't often see labor writers delving into rural issues, but they call them "factory farms" for a reason.
Though there is plenty of contention on the issue of CAFOs, there are arguments on both sides, and Bybee delivers on the debate. We'll be hearing more about the changing face of agriculture as time goes on, as family farms struggle to determine their future.
In the arts and entertainment pages of Isthmus, we get involved in a different kind of "country," the kind that hooks up with "western" and is usually associated with Nashville, Tenn. But in the case of Jessi Lynn, the subject of Rich Albertoni's profile "The Long Way Home," country heaven turned out to be right here in Madison.
Lynn's connections to Madison were rather tangential until she decided to make it her base of operations. Now she's riding a wave of success that could carry her to those Nashville shores once again. But for now she's happy with the way her career is finding its path, wherever it may lead.