Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) Members of Distinction program honors members who embody the Cooperative’s core values and excel on their operations, in their communities and in the industry. Each year, one member farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas is honored.
The 2020 Members of Distinction are:
Brick Family, Brickstead Dairy — Greenleaf, Wis. Established in 1848, Brickstead Dairy is dedicated to continuing its family legacy that goes back five generations. Today, they milk 1,000 cows and are passionate about clean water, land stewardship and sharing their best practices and family history with others. Through sustainable farming practices, the family is diligent about using water from the dairy as nutrients for the fields and keeping those nutrients out of their waterways. Dan and Melanie Brick are also active members of their community and know educating consumers about dairy and sustainable practices is key to securing a future for farming, which is why the family hosts several educational events on their farm throughout the year. Through hard work and community engagement, the Bricks are helping to share dairy’s sustainable story with the world.
Oesch Family, Swisslane Farms — Alto, Mich. Just over 100 years old, Swisslane Farms has been an integral part of the Oesch family history. Today, senior partners Fred, Tom and Jeff Oesch, and next-generation leaders Matt and Tommy Oesch and Annie Link milk just over 2,000 Holstein cows in Alto, Mich., where the local community is an important part of their operation. Through their on-farm, non-profit organization, Dairy Discovery, the Oesch family connects their community to their values and farm-to-table story by welcoming kids to experience the farm and develop a connection to their food — from going on a hay ride and bottle feeding calves to learning about a cow’s diet and enjoying a glass of milk. The dairy’s values are the same as their ancestors were 100 years ago, with a strong focus on caring for the cows and the land, providing a quality product and innovation. To be light years ahead, Swisslane Farms became one of the first farms in the state of Michigan to install robotic milkers on a large scale.
Roth Family, Si-Ellen Farms — Jerome, Idaho For the Roth family, producing high-quality milk starts with their family and carries over to their longstanding employees who have helped shape their operation. With roughly 8,000 Holstein cows, the eight Roth siblings who partner to make their three dairies a success focus on treating each cow as if she were only one, which requires trusted employees. Because of this, the Roth family understands their employees are an integral part of the family farm, and they go above and beyond to make them feel like family — from offering comprehensive benefits and hosting pizza Fridays each month to providing extensive training and comfortable break rooms. By retaining trained, loyal employees through the years, the family can be sure their family legacy continues through happy, healthy cows that produce top-quality milk.
Garber Family, Rock Solid Dairy, LLC — Shippensburg, Pa. Growing up, Zane Garber always aspired to operate an efficient dairy on his own. With his family’s home farm just 20 miles away, Zane, along with his wife, Juanita, had the opportunity to purchase a dairy of their own in 2007. Since then, Zane and Juanita, with their kids Micah, Nathan, Jen and James, have built Rock Solid Dairy into a strong foundation for the future. Milking nearly 350 cows and farming more than 775 acres, Zane and his wife, Juanita, treat their cows with the utmost care, which in turn provides consistent, high-quality milk — a priority for Zane and his operation. Throughout the years, Zane has learned that milk quality is tied to every aspect of the farm — from keeping the free stalls clean and making sure the milk procedures are accurately followed to feeing the girls a balanced diet. At Rock Solid Dairy, quality is interwoven into all aspects of the farm.
Crawley Family, Crawley’s Valley View Farms — Gravette, Ark. With 300 cows on 650 acres, the Crawley family is focused on breeding, efficiency and caring for their herd. As fourth-generation dairy farmers, Tim and Nikki Crawley took over the operation in 1996 that’s been in Tim’s family since 1919 with their daughters Brittany and Jessica eager to take over as the fifth generation. The family has a strong focus on caring for each individual cow and encourage their herd to graze while also keeping some cows in free stalls with fresh bedding and misters when it’s hot. The Crawley family believes it all comes full circle — by taking care of their cows and keeping them healthy, their herd will produce more and in return, their family operation can provide more dairy to their community.
Schroeder Family, Lawrence Schroeder Dairy — Windthorst, Texas Butch Schroeder and his wife, Diane, built a dairy in the town they both grew up in 30 years ago. Purposely kept small, the Schroeders started with 80 cows and grew over the years, now milking 140 cows on 200 acres in Windthorst, Texas. With an emphasis on cow comfort and well-kept facilities, the Schroeders host customer visits yearly and participate in the Daisy Pasture Access Program. The family is also proud of what the dairy community has instilled in their family. By heavily involving their children in the operation, Butch and Diane’s kids, Kevin, Tyler and Kyle, developed strong work ethics and learned the importance of being active members of their community. For the Schroeders, their operation is more than a well-kept, successful dairy. It’s a support system that’s helped shape their family and instill values they can lean on for a lifetime.
De Snayer Family, De Snayer Dairy — Lodi, Calif. In Lodi, Calif., the De Snayer family is focused on continuing a legacy that was established by Leen De Snayer who tragically passed away in a car accident in 2010. Leen was a passionate dairy farmer, focused on hard work and bringing a smile to everyone’s face. With a positive mindset and a strong family bond, the De Snayer family has worked hard to make Leen proud by taking care of their workers, their 1,600 cows and one another. With a recent remodel of their milk barn, the De Snayer family has room to expand but are currently focusing on cow comfort by grooming beds, providing ample shade and keeping a close eye on each individual cow. For the De Snayer family, Leen’s legacy of a positive and resilient mindset lives on at their dairy farm and within their operation.