On a happier note, there is the cheese company that he started in 2000. Fiscalini Cheese Co. has earned numerous awards, both nationally and internationally, for the quality of its products.
Fiscalini says he started the cheese company because:
• It’s a chance to gain a closer connection to the consumer. While growing up, his father used to take the family to a Safeway grocery store every Sunday morning on the way home from church. He’d stand in front of the milk aisle and point at the containers, saying “Our milk is in these cartons.”
• It’s a way to take the middle man out of the equation, “I expected to take some of the volatility out of the milk price and make some of the profit,” he says.
• It offered an opportunity to integrate his daughters into the business. And today, one of his daughters, Laura, is very much involved in the cheese company. He’s always had a strong commitment to family.
It doesn’t take long for him to get start talking about his grandchildren. (Among his grandchildren, there is a set of triplets.) His wife, Heather, is the sales and marketing director for the cheese company. And, his 95-year-old mother still lives with everyone on the farm. The farm, located near Modesto, Calif., currently has 1,500 cows in the milking herd.
Dairywoman of the Year: Mary Shank Creek
Mary Shank Creek is in love with the dairy industry.
“It has given me an incredible way of life that I wouldn’t trade for anything,” she says. She grew up in the dairy industry, and her participation in 4-H and FFA gave her life skills that she has been able to use in a number of areas. It gave her a focus while a student at Virginia Tech. And, subsequently, it has been a business opportunity and an outstanding way to raise a family.
“I get to go outside and see the results of decisions and hard work,” she says. “I work with animals and nature all the time.”
Palmyra Farm, which she owns with her brother, sits in a valley among gently rolling hills. The farm has 170 cows in the milking herd, including Ayrshires and Holsteins.
“We’ve had Ayrshires for four generations,” she says. “The Holsteins have come in the last 20 years.”
It’s her goal to have the farm be productive and viable for the next generation. “We want to be able to pass a profitable business on to our sons,” she adds.
As purebred breeders, she and her brother are passionate about improving the genetic quality of their animals. They also want to keep improving the quality of the dairy products they produce.