Entering Farmer 20100
Let me begin by introducing myself. I am a dairyman. My partner, and I are looking for a well-managed small dairy whose owners want to see their farm continue, but may be reaching an age where they would like the freedom to not be confined to daily chores. We are creative, flexible, realistic and open-minded, and are seeking a situation where we can make a cooperative transition plan with the current farmers. We want to continue a legacy of a family run agricultural enterprise that will sustain a livable wage for us for the rest of our lives; we believe the family dairy still has a place in America. We desire, above all, to see the small farm preserved. We want to eliminate as much risk as possible by using a conservative approach and not emphasizing constant expansion, but instead, relying on improvements in milk quality, milk marketing, agronomy, genetics, pasture building and well-maintained equipment. Our mission is to live a good agricultural life, to leave things better off than we found them, and to establish a pattern of independent thinking and innovative business practices. We want to preserve a family dairy that needs us, and to be capable of passing the farm on to another generation of small farmers who respect animals, food and land. We offer a relationship that ensures adequate communication in English from American citizens who like to farm. We are not only seeking an opportunity for ourselves, but also offering a unique opportunity for your farm and way of life to be undisturbed. Perhaps you have a legacy you wish to preserve, not destroy by selling out to the neighbor who employs cheap labor and sells large quantities of milk to an already saturated market, the neighbor who works less and spends more on frivolous material wants. We want to preserve an American agriculturalist and an independent family farm, not sit back and watch agriculture become monopolized by agribusinesses who always desire more land and more cows, who are never satisfied but don’t milk their own cattle.
Reason: Current Employment: We are currently employed in Wisconsin on a family owned, 1200-acre, well-managed 400-cow dairy. I am responsible for assisting the owner with field work, repairing and maintaining equipment and the physical plant, entering data into a PC DART system, managing pre-fresh cattle, vaccinating cattle, trimming tails, singing udders, keeping records and treating sick calves, heifers and cattle. I monitor all milk cows on the weekend, as well as feed them, and treat all lactating animals as needed. Lisa works with calves in the robotic calf barn, raising them until they are six months of age. The farm employs an excellent veterinarian who does herd health bi-weekly; I have had many opportunities to ask questions of him and assist him in procedures when he is present, thus furthering my knowledge of bovine health. Past Experience on Small Dairies: We have worked on small dairies (of around 90-100 lactating cows) in Wisconsin, New York and Pennsylvania. We enjoy small dairies because we can be involved personally in every aspect of the dairy business and way of life. We have milked together and kept SCC below 50,000; we like excellent milk quality and value cow health. On any farm I am responsible for, I don’t want to delegate every task to someone else. I want to be the one who milks, selects crops, mates the cattle, repairs and maintains equipment and raises young stock. Though large dairies work on the premise that more cows and more volume equals more profit, we are dedicated to a philosophy of high quality product over maximum animal units allowed on our land base. We have put a lot of emphasis on quality milk, not simply low somatic cell count, but also high components. We have worked with crossbred herds as well as registered Holstein herds. When animals come first, you must be willing to diversify and adapt. The dairy cow is an asset to the small dairy enterprise---she provides the dairy with more than a milk check.
Info: Background: I was born in Vermont in 1978. I grew up in Addison County in Vermont’s Champlain Valley. When I was a child there were small dairies all around milking less than 75 cows. All cows were on pasture. Life was good for cattle and farm families. My first job at a neighbor’s farm, at age six, was getting the cows in for milking. The experiences I had working on neighboring farms in my childhood and youth formed my preferences for upright silage storage, balage and baled dry hay. I believe in a focus on excellent genetics and cow comfort. Most importantly, I enjoy the work. I feel the most satisfaction from ending the day by being proud of what I was able to accomplish. Education and Affiliations: Along with the varied experiences I have had working on many farms, I have strived to educate myself. After high school, I took economics, human resource management and business courses at Johnson State College in Johnson, Vermont. Last year, I completed an ABS class in artificial insemination. I have taken part in workshops on up-to-date grazing practices, and am currently enrolled in a farm management course at Fox Valley Technical College, part of which will cover concepts of budget writing, monthly cash flow and herd management techniques. I have long been an avid and comprehensive reader of agricultural publications. I am a member of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, the American Dairy Science Association and the National Farmers’ Union.
Dairy Info: Business Philosophy: Thinking in a progressive manner is daily educational enrichment. Sustainability and continued current use of land requires unique independent strategies that have been designed specifically for the dairy in question. My philosophy is one of caution. I want to make educated, analytical decisions based on historical and current ebb and flow aspects of the agricultural economy. Though I possess necessary problem solving skills to operate a dairy, I love to ask questions and take advice from masters in the trade of agriculture. Innovative ideas must be blended with the wisdom of the old ways. We don’t have to accelerate everything to have success. For example, keeping an older cow around for more than 3.2 lactations is valuable, as is the practice of reducing the cull rate to less than 20% for profitable results. I know how to do this. Practical Considerations: I am currently working with the FSA on the beginning farmer loan program. I do not have a farm in mind as yet, so this is why I am networking to find the right fit. We would like to potentially own from 50 to 100 percent of the cows initially, while paying rent on facilities for long-term lease. Eventually, I would like to own land and would be open to a land contract or owner financing of some type. We want to stay small and focus on quality and land stewardship, as well as to consider some newer ideas such as direct marketing and processing of high quality dairy products directly to the consumer, agritourism and educational programs, and sales of non-dairy produce and small grains, as well as small square bales of high-quality hay. In terms of equipment, I own a set of Snap-on Tools with toolbox, a Honda 13hp mobile air compressor, two pick-up trucks and a tractor, and some livestock. We would come to a farm well equipped and fit. Based on our experience we have no interest in living off the farm. Lisa and I do not think we should have to travel to where our cows reside. I cannot do a good job if I am not close to the cattle. This being said, housing must be affordable and close to lactating and pre-fresh cattle. We don’t want a place to be inconvenient. It must enable us to get the job done. I don’t mind cutting wood for heat. I can maintain things when needed but I know the difference between being taken advantage of or being asked to do more than I can handle and what is a reasonable expectation for proper management of machinery, tools and the physical plant. Values: I value putting in that extra 15 minutes before supper to make sure livestock is well. I value putting in the extra hour to make sure a job is done correctly the first time. I value taking pride in your dairy. I value putting off supper to feed the newborn calf colostrum in her first hour of life. I value a strong work ethic. I value health and exercise and nutritious food to eat from valuable livestock and land. I value independent thinking. I value reading more than one source, being analytical, and asking for advice or help. I value education. I value honest business. I value good politicians I value family. I value you. A dairy is not a job; it is a way of life. I value the golden rule: do unto others as you would have done unto you. Closing: We would like to establish a lasting relationship with a family whose needs match our deep desire to develop a small family dairy with a focus on milking, feeding and raising the best crops and dairy animals. Above all, we want the dairy to continue to be farmed as you want it to be farmed. My philosophy is if you milk your own cows you may not want to expand every year. A real dairyman still is present during milking most of the time; providing milk for man is an art. I recently visited a 3500 milking cow dairy. One fellow there described his full time job position as “Manager of Destruction.” He said he managed a crew of men who tore down buildings, fence lines and silos when his employer’s agribusiness acquired farms. You have worked so long to build your herd, home, buildings, silos and well-balanced land to maintain a sustainable family dairy. Don’t succumb to the big agribusiness that relies on illegal labor to expand to 1% or more annually to continue to monopolize agriculture. Keep in mind the family operated dairy does not rely on cheap immigrant labor so they can take vacations and weekends off. I will pay what the farm is worth, perform the work, and care for animals, buildings and land the way God intended, not as a monopoly. Thank you for your consideration.
Formulated Business Plan: Yes
Marketing Plan: Yes
Currently Has Herd: No
Use Land For Crop Production: Yes
Experience: 7 or more
Experience Over 7 Years: 18 +