Henk and Linda Sevenhuysen, Seven Hills Dairy, in Goodland, Ind., were named the Indiana Dairy Producers" (IDP) Outstanding Dairy Producers of the Year.
Henk and Linda milk 2,500 cows on site in Benton County, and also have 2,100 heifers that are raised at a farm in Illinois. They have two children, Pete and Sharon.
Why is Henk a dairy farmer? "It's a disease that I have," jokes Henk. From the time that he was 2 years old, he wanted to milk cows, and it is all he has ever wanted to do. His folks tried to discourage him, but there was never a doubt in Henk's mind that he would be around cows.
Henk is a 4th generation dairy farmer, but a first generation dairy farmer in the United States. Henk emigrated from Holland. After first settling in Ontario, Canada in 1996, he moved to his current location in Indiana and started milking there in 2003. He is currently marketing his milk through Chula Vista Cheese. Henk spent 6 years on the Indiana Dairy Producers board of directors, serving several of those years as vice president. Henk and Linda have also hosted many farm tours. Henk shares a valuable perspective with his experience in dairy farming in three countries.
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Henk personally feels one of his biggest challenges is setting the table for the next generation on his farm if it is the desire of his children, and if so, how do he and Linda make that happen?
As far as other challenges, Henk knows there are environmental hurdles and regulatory issues, but he is confident there is always a way to figure out problems. He wants to be a dairy farmer so he"ll just find a way to deal with them.
Henk loves the "busy-ness" of juggling lots of different things. He "never gets bored" with the dairy and looks forward to the future with a great deal of optimism.
Since 2007, IDP has named an outstanding dairy producer of the year, based on nominations submitted and selected by Extension Specialists and Industry Advisers of the organization. Past recipients include Fred Beer (2007), Tom Neuenschwander (2008), Doug Leman (2009), Dave Forgey (2010), Brian Rexing (2011), Leontien Van de Laar (2012), Derek Herrema (2013) and Mike Heckaman (2014).