Brubaker Farms of Mount Joy, Penn., was named the 2011 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year during a ceremony at the International Dairy Foods Association's Dairy Forum in Miami, Fla. Owners Luke, Mike and Tony Brubaker received the award from IDFA Vice Chairman Dave Fuhrmann, who is president and CEO of Foremost Farms USA, Cooperative.
Now in its 13th year, this award recognizes U.S. dairy producers that apply creativity, excellence and forward thinking to achieve greater on-farm productivity and improved milk marketing.
With 850 cows and 700 young stock, Brubaker Farms produced 20,200,000 pounds of milk last year. It has 13 full-time employees and more than 1,500 acres of farmland.
Brubaker Farms uses new technologies, such as solar panels on the barn roof and a methane digester, to provide energy for the farm and hundreds of local homes. Brubaker Farms also participates in nutrient trading (offsets) to enhance the economic viability of the dairy operation.
"Luke Brubaker and his sons, Mike and Tony, are well known for their early adoption of new technology. They own and operate one of the most innovative farms on the East Coast," said Russell C. Redding, who nominated the farm for the award. Redding is the secretary of agriculture for the state of Pennsylvania.
According to Redding, the owners realized that the methane digestion system could produce more electricity by accepting food waste from local manufacturers. Working with the manufacturers, they have expanded the system so that it can accept 2,600 gallons of food waste per day, waste that otherwise would be disposed of in a local landfill. This process provides additional revenue for the farm, while demonstrating community partnerships that have a positive impact on the environment.
The farm offers help to the community in other ways, too. Once the digester waste is dried, the organic material is used to fertilize fields. The farm then sells nutrient credits to a local municipality to help it to meet federal requirements and to keep sewer bills from rising.
Previous winners of the Innovative Dairy Farmer title are Mason Dixon Farms, Gettysburg, Pa. (1999); Clauss Dairy Farms, Hilmar, Calif. (2000); Baldwin Dairy/Emerald Dairy, in Emerald, Wis. (2001); Si-Ellen Farms in Jerome, Idaho (2002); Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy of Kewaunee, Wis. (2003); C Bar M Dairy, Jerome, Idaho (2004); North Florida Holsteins, Bell, Fla. (2005); KF Dairy, El Centro, Calif. (2006); Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, Calif. (2007); KBC Farms, Purdy, Mo., (2008); High Plains Dairy, Friona, Texas (2009); and Haubenschild Dairy Farm, Inc., Princeton, Minn. (2010).
A call for nominations for the 2012 Innovative Dairy Farmer award will be released this summer.