Geert and Gertie van den Goor of Marlette, in Sanilac County, were recently recognized for their outstanding achievements with the 2014 Michigan State University (MSU) Dairy Farmer of the Year award. The award was given at the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference in Febuary.
Geert and Gertie established Goma Dairy Farm, LCC, in 1999 after the couple and their family moved to Michigan from the Netherlands. Goma Dairy is currently in production of 2,800 Holstein cows and 2,500 head of young stock. The van den Goor’s describe their farm as a modern, clean dairy that is proud of producing a safe and nutritious product. Their current DHI rolling herd average is 27,621 pounds of milk annually. The dairy has received of numerous county awards, and were recognized twice for the highest five year herd milking average increase in Sanilac County.
Geert and Gertie said, “they would not have been able to receive these awards had it not been for the hard work of their employees.” The couple believes in leading by example while they work every day alongside their skilled employees. Goma Dairy Farm is MAEAP verified in Farmstead and Livestock systems, and they participate in the National Dairy FARM Program for animal care.
Off the farm, the van den Goor’s have been involved in the Sanilac County Farmers Care program, Volunteer Freedom Riders, a 4-H riding program for people with special needs, and a supporter of the MMPA large producers group. Gertie is a hospice volunteer.
The van den Goor’s have three children: Anne, 23, who is completing her master’s degree in social work at MSU; Giel, 20, who is attending the Journey Skills Center in Sandusky; Lotte, 18, who is a freshman at Loyola University in Chicago where she is majoring in biochemistry.
Geert and Gertie opened their farm to more than 2,500 community members by hosting a Breakfast on the Farm program in 2012. During the event, visitors were able to view that farms double 36 cow milking parlor, about the calving system, and discover the everyday operations that take place on a farm of this scale. Gertie stressed the importance of educating the public on how advanced dairy farming has become. She says, “Dairy Farming has come a long way from Grandpa on a three legged stool. We need to get everyone excited agriculture and promote it as a science. Young people still have an old fashioned thought of agriculture and it’s so much more than that now.”
Goma Dairy offers tours by appointment for groups interested in learning about agriculture and continue to spread the positive work of the dairy industry through social media.