WPVGA Honors Paul Miller with Hall of Fame Induction
For the City Times
PORTAGE COUNTY – Paul Miller of Paul Miller Farms, Inc., Hancock, was inducted into the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association Hall of Fame at the industry’s annual awards banquet held Feb. 9 in Stevens Point.
The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) Hall of Fame honors lifetime achievement in the development of the state’s potato industry. It is the intention of the WPVGA to continue to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the potato industry in Wisconsin by making annual Hall of Fame inductions.
In the 1960’s and ’70s, Hancock, Wisconsin, and the surrounding farmland was the largest bean production area for Green Giant. Many high school and college students worked for Green Giant during the summers in the production plant, shop and as novice mechanics. Miller was no different.
In fact, when Miller graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, in 1965, he went back to work for Green Giant in his hometown of Beaver Dam. Miller had grown up on his own family’s farm, started by his great-great-grandparents in the 1850’s, in Beaver Dam. There, he vividly remembers plowing a field at the age of 8.
Fresh out of college, Miller moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas, working for Green Giant as a field man in the production areas there and in the great state of Oklahoma.
“Then I moved to Hancock,” he says, “and worked at what was called Foster Farm at the time. That’s a mile straight west of where I am now.”
Where Miller is now is Paul Miller Farms, Inc., of Hancock, and some 70 years after plowing those fields in Beaver Dam at the tender age of 8, he’s still farming. As president of the farming operation, Miller works with his son, Todd, daughter, Michelle, and grandsons, Jordan and Ian, raising 2,800 acres of vegetables, including potatoes, sweet corn, snap beans and peas, and growing 525 acres of carrots for Bird’s Eye Foods and Del Monte.
Miller’s decision, in 1967, to leave Green Giant and become the farm manager for Badger Growers, a 1,000-acre green bean and sweet corn operation located in Hancock, was a turning point. In addition to raising snap beans and sweet corn, Miller grew potatoes for American Potato (which later became Basic American Foods). In 1990, he and his two children bought all the assets of Badger Growers and formed Paul Miller Farms, Inc., an 1,100-acre irrigated potato and vegetable operation.