Charles, George, Tom and Mark Crave are the team of brothers who built Crave Brothers Farm and Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo, Wis.

The family’s management philosophy is to be in the top 5 percent in everything it does. “Whether it’s production per cow, production per acre, income per acre or income per cow, we want to be in the top 5 percent in every area and if we aren’t, we work together to get there,” says George Crave.

In addition, every decision is made with a five-year outlook in mind. They look at trends in other areas of agriculture, around the world, consumer preferences and then self-examine their operation, asking how they can play a role.

Always have the confidence to step outside the box — that is a philosophy the four brothers attribute to their father, Robert Crave. He had one of the very first milking parlors in the Midwest in 1962. The brothers have carried on this innovative thinking, building one of the first modern free-stall barns in Wisconsin in 1989, investing in an ethanol plant in 1999 and then the cheese plant in 2002. More recently, they invested in a methane digester that produces enough power to run their 1,200-cow dairy, the cheese plant and 100 homes.

Industry person of the year, Mike Hutjens

Caring, commitment and being a team player are three things that Mike Hutjens attributes his successes to in life. Those are just a few of the life lessons learned while growing up on a farm near Green Bay, Wis.

“Throughout my life, I have been surrounded with great mentors — from my parents, my college advisers and many more. Every single person I meet, I learn something from,” says Hutjens.

One thing he has learned, while teaching, is not to rattle information off but to turn a person’s mind on, making things interesting, hands-on and applied.

Hutjens has used this strategy to shape the minds of students in the Animal Sciences Department at the University of Illinois for the past 29 years. In addition, he has authored numerous technical journal articles and abstracts, popular-press articles, computer programs and educational videotapes.

Dairy woman of the year, Marion Barlass

Preserving the dairy industry for future generations is what drives Marion Barlass. Barlass along with her husband, Bill, own and operate a 425-cow Jersey operation in southern Wisconsin.

“With so many outside influences today, we have to stand together as an industry,” Barlass says. “We need to be successful — not only as individual farming operations, but together as an entire industry. That is the only way we can ensure that the legacy of dairy continues for generations to come.”

Barlass keeps these thoughts in mind in the day-to-day management of the farm and while serving in dairy industry boardrooms. She currently serves as a director for the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, was the first woman ever to serve as president of the Wisconsin Jersey Breeders Association, and was editor of the Wisconsin
Jersey Booster for 15 years.

International person of the year, Hubertus Diers

Hubertus Diers is the owner of World Wide sires–Germany.

Since its inception, World Wide Sires–Germany has imported more than 1.3 million doses of dairy semen and several thousand frozen dairy cattle embryos from the United States. Diers has been credited with improving production and innovation for German dairy producers.

Diers says his passion in life is the dairy cow. “I love every aspect of dairy cows — working with them, knowing their pedigrees, breeding them — it’s more than a job, it’s a way of life.” He credits this passion to all of the people he’s met in life, including the ones he met while interning for Foxlease Farm in Upperville, Va., at the age of 19. 

Diers is proud to follow in the footsteps of Gunther Rath in receiving the International Person of the Year Award. Rath is the former manager of RPN AI stud in Germany, from whom Diers learned how to operate an AI business.