2020 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year: A Progressive Partnership

Cow Managers ( MVP Dairy )

For decades, the VanTilburg family of western Ohio has made stewardship their No. 1 priority. They started with no-till and cover crops and kept at it even though financial incentive was minimal. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Kansas, McCarty family farms was doing the same thing. 

Today, their commitments to regenerative agriculture is paying off in spades through a partnership between the VanTilburg family, McCarty Family Farms and a non-GMO contract with Dannon. It’s because of their commitment to sustainability, technology and progressive improvement they were named the 2020 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year.

Marginalizing Market Volatility

“Five or six years ago, my brothers and I were looking to get out of the big swings of the commodity market. We’d been doing regenerative-type agricultural practices for years, seeing the agronomic benefit but not really the financial benefit,” says Kyle VanTilburg.

The family discovered Dannon when researching projects that could offer a financial benefit for the stewardship practices they were already implementing.  

“Dannon wanted transparency to show where their yogurt comes from — basically from soil to cup. We were doing a lot of the practices on-farm they were looking for,” VanTilburg says. However, the VanTilburgs had never owned a dairy before. 

Through a series of events, the VanTilburgs met the McCarty brothers from Kansas. The McCartys had been in a relationship with Dannon since 2010 and were looking to expand their business into other milk sheds. At the same time, the Dannon plant in Ohio was looking to move into the non-GMO market. A partnership formed between the VanTilburgs and McCartys, and MVP dairy went from concept to reality. 

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