Farming strong

by Annette Bertelsen, Contributing Writer

Oct 19, 2017

Some champions start with a dream. Others, with a dare. The latter was true for Jason Bergmann, a Wisconsin farmer and two-time finalist in the World’s Strongest Man competition.

As a Purdue University student, a fellow gym member training for a Strongman event challenged Bergmann to try. Surprising even himself, Bergmann lifted and carried two enormous weights. “My brother Paul and I started training and turned pro within a year,” says Jason.

Ironically, that first attempt in the Purdue gym was a Strongman event called the farmer’s walk, where competitors race along a course while carrying up to a 350-pound weight in each hand.
“Being a farmer gives you an advantage,” says Jason. “You learn how to use your body to lift, carry, push or pull things, whether you are baling hay or carrying a calf through the snow or mud.”

The Bergmanns raise dairy beef and cash crops and do custom harvesting. Just as the operation has expanded over the years to include more family members, so has the training that takes place in a 30-by-50-foot shed converted into a practice center. Younger brother Luke and brother-in-law Andy Derks train alongside Jason.

“Strongman is a sport unlike any other. Even at the international level, it’s a close-knit group of good people with a lot of camaraderie,” says Jason. “It’s like farming; we all work together toward a common goal.”

Paul agrees the sport is about cooperation as much as competition. “There are about 50 events, so it’s pretty easy to stay motivated, especially when you’re training with friends.”  He has retired from competition and is an applicator for United Cooperative of Beaver Dam, Wis., which supplies the family farm with agronomy, feed, grain, and energy products and services. 

“I’m proud to work at the co-op,” Paul says. “The people are honest, knowledgeable and responsive. Other businesses don’t have that type of customer service.”

The Bergmann brothers raised eyebrows around Greenville, Wis., when they started training. “One of us would be wearing a harness and pulling a tractor down the road. Neighbors would say, ‘Are you trying to save money on gas?’ Or we’d practice the tire flip and they’d say, ‘You know they make forklifts for that,’” says Paul.

The brothers have excelled in the sport. Jason earned second place in the 2008 America’s Strongest Man competition and ninth and tenth places at the 2008 and 2010 World’s Strongest Man competitions, respectively, before taking time off for injuries. “I want to get back into world competition,” he says. “I’ve met all my goals. Now it’s about the fun of seeing what I can do.” 
Washington D.C.

Advocating for owners

Advocating for owners

Learn More


Advancing innovation in cooperative education

Advancing innovation in cooperative education

Learn More


Nurse Scholar Program

Training rural nurses helps mitigate health & safety risks for farmers

Training rural nurses helps mitigate health & safety risks for farmers

Learn More