William F. Renk | 1948
Championship breeder of sheep and founder of Renk Seed
1875-1964 | Artist: Othmar J. Hoffler (1893-1954)
Impact & Accomplishments
William F. Renk graduated from the University of Wisconsin’s short course in agriculture in 1898, earning a silver medal in sheep judging. He imported Shropshire, Hampshire, and Suffolk sheep from England, establishing William F. Renk and Sons in Sun Prairie, in 1908.
Renk’s herd produced several grand champions, and he took leadership roles in the sheep breeders’ and wool producers organizations in the state. He was on the executive committee of the Wisconsin Live Stock Breeders’ Association and was serving as state commissioner of agriculture in 1931.
During the Depression, William F. Renk and Sons became, reportedly, the nation’s first family farm operation to incorporate. As universities were beginning to advocate for hybrid corn in the 1930s, Renk and his sons founded Renk Seed.
Did You Know?
The Renk farm had the first silo erected in Dane county in 1898, had one of the first tile drainage systems installed in Wisconsin in 1916 and had the first dairy herd to go on DHIA in Wisconsin.
William Renk helped set up the Production Credit Association in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Growing and selling hybrid seed corn continues as the cornerstone of the Renk Seed business today as with the addition of soybeans and alfalfa. Courtesy Renk Seed.