The impact of a dairy farm is multi-generational

Dairy farmers contribute more than just a fresh milk supply to rural America. They also preserve and protect!

Brooten, Minnesota has a population of less than 800. Crowds travel from near and far to the rural community in search of delicious, artisan cheese produced at Redhead Creamery-- a family dairy that has grown with the next generation to include cheesemaking.

One of the owners and operators, Lucas Sjostrom, explains the multi-generational impact dairy farmers provide to a community.

According to Sjostrom, “In a dairy farm, you’re going to be here for generations if you put a footprint down like we have here. I think that creates good leaders on our school boards, our local townships. So, I think that’s something that’s kind of missed, the social fabric that dairy farmers maybe hold together.”

Sjostrom also serves as executive director for the Minnesota Milk Producers Association.

He says that dairy farming is a long-term business, and one that is far more important to society than most realize. “When a calf is born, that is basically a five year business plan. You’re not going to make money back on that calf born until five years later on a dairy farm,” he states. “When you think about that, when we pour concrete, when we put up buildings-- that’s a generational commitment.”

Investing in the community, supporting other local businesses, and building strong school systems are all areas of interest for the nation’s dairy producers.

Rural areas benefit greatly when producers stay in business.

Dairy farmers ship a perishable product that needs to be produced with high standards and delivered fresh. This means local service is important and so too is choosing companies where you have a personal relationship.

His advice for making it in the long-term: “We’re really good at producing our feed, we’re really good at taking care of our cows so they’re hitting optimal production and reproduction and everything that goes with it, but I think we need to think a lot more about managing risks, and that includes human resources, that includes financial management. If we can get that right, I think, we’re going to have dairy farmers that last for generations to come.”

Especially during an extremely volatile year like 2020, finding ways to manage risk is essential.

Working with bankers, insurance agents, and others helps ensure profitability.

For Redhead Creamery, the path forward includes staying committed to serving their community, producing quality cheeses, and caring for their herd of registered Holsteins.

“I’ve grown up on a registered Holstein farm, and this has always been a registered Holstein farm. The reason for that is essentially that we see them as adding value,” Sjostrom adds. “Our cows can produce just as much cheese pounds or more than those other breeds and they have a lot more value at harvest... For us, it’s an easy win. So, we feel really confident that we’re using the best animals we can for our cheese.”

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