Dairy Farmers of America honored its “Members of Distinction” during the co-op's annual meeting in Kansas City, March 18. The program honors members who embody the cooperative’s core values, excelling on their operations, in their communities and in the industry. Each year, one member farm from each of DFA’s seven regional marketing areas is honored.
The 2014 Members of Distinction are:
Sharpe Family, Heartland Dairy — La Belle, Mo.
Most of the 130 employees on Charles Sharpe’s Heartland Dairy have never been on a dairy before arriving at Heartland. Located in Heartland Community, a Christian community for people battling drug and alcohol addiction, the dairy serves as a first step rehabilitation center for men going through the community’s rehabilitation program. Charles and general manager Chris Powell attribute the 4,000-cow dairy farm’s success to their focus on cow comfort and the commitment of their employees.
Cromer Family, Sieg Dairy — Ridgeway, Ohio
Amanda Cromer is the fourth generation to operate her family’s dairy in Ridgeway, Ohio. Following her father’s passing in 2009, she and her husband, Nate, took over the dairy’s daily responsibilities. By working with their children, Meadow, Callie and John, and Amanda’s brother, Dave, they continue to improve the quality of their 100-cow herd. The Cromers also credit much of their success to the family’s ability to work together as a team.
Wailes Double W Farm Dairy — Holyoke, Colo.
At Double W Farm Dairy, Glenn Huwa and his brothers-in-law, Marc and Gregg Wailes, are continually looking for ways to improve their operation. The family focuses on providing their 1500 dairy cows with a clean, healthy environment in addition to quality feed and a milking schedule best suited for their cows. They also share the quality bonus they receive from DFA with their staff to reward them for their commitment to quality.
Morrill Family, Morrill Farm Dairy — Penacook, N.H.
Since 2012, Rob and Sherri Morrill have been expanding the dairy operation that has been in Rob’s family for more than 85 years. With the assistance of their four children, Andy, Kevin, Ryan and Kimberly, the Morrills were able to successfully expand their operation from 154 cows to 486 in 18 months. The family takes pride that through working together they have established a solid foundation for the fifth generation of Morrills.
Hockett Family, Green Valley Farms — Randleman, N.C.
Brothers Keith and Herschel Hockett were determined to continue dairying after the economic downturn of 2009 forced them out of the business. The family has now reentered dairying and built their dairy herd to 850 cows. In addition to making long-term investments in facilities and technology, the Hocketts also work to take care of their land for future generations.
de Boer Family, Fluit Dairy — Dublin, Texas
When Johan de Boer immigrated to the United States from Holland in the ’90s, he arrived with nothing more than a bag of clothes and a little bit of money. Today, he and his wife, Klazina, along with their three children, Ilse, Jilt and Jitse, help grow the operation which, milks more than 1,300 cows, farm 500 acres and leases another 1,100 acres where they grow wheat,corn and sorghum for feed. They credit their success to their commitment to their cows, their land and their employees.
Vlot Family, Vlot Brothers Dairy — Chowchilla, Calif.
Dirk and Case Vlot grew up helping their father milk 125 cows. More than 14 years after their father’s dairy closed, the brothers knew they wanted to reenter the business. Starting from the ground up, only ten miles from where their father’s dairy was located, the Vlots built their dairy operation to 6,000 cows and are raising 30,000 calves. Dirk is now expanding and has broken ground on a 3,300-head dairy in Smith Valley, Nev., near DFA’s new plant in Fallon.
Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA) is a national dairy marketing cooperative that serves and is owned by more than 13,000 members on nearly 8,000 farms in 48 states. DFA also is one of the country’s most diversified manufacturers of dairy products, food components and ingredients, and is a leader in formulating and packaging shelf-stable dairy products.