Bar 20 Dairy of Kerman, Calif., was recognized today as the 2023 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year at the International Dairy Foods Association’s (IDFA) Dairy Forum. The award is presented each year by IDFA and Dairy Herd Management magazine. Bar 20 Dairy, owned by third-generation dairy farmer Steve Shehadey along with seven other family members, is a 7,000-cow dairy that also farms 5,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley.
Founded in 1953, Bar 20 has evolved with a greater focus on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reductions and renewable energy generation. The Shehadey family installed a methane digester in 2021, pairing it with Bloom Energy fuel cells on the dairy farm to generate renewable electricity from the methane captured via the digester. Through a partnership with BMW North America, Bar 20 provides combustion-free, dairy-derived electricity to the utility grid to power electric vehicles; BMW then purchases the environmental credits generated by Bar 20 Dairy. The renewable energy generated results in carbon emissions reductions equivalent to providing clean power to more than 17,000 electric vehicles per year. This type of innovative partnership serves as a model to accelerate the adoption of biodigesters at dairy farms across the country.
According to Dairy Herd Management, the Shehadeys say these kinds of projects are investments made for future benefits. For example, the farm’s electricity needs are offset by a 2 megawatt on-site solar array, and 100% LED bulbs are used on the farm. Their solar array and methane digester produce more power than the dairy and farm use, allowing Bar 20 to sell the surplus energy. An electric feed mixer saves on diesel fuel by using renewable electricity to mix the feed, further reducing emissions on the farm. Bar 20 Dairy’s methane digester captures more than 25,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to the carbon sequestered by approximately 30,000 acres of U.S. forests in one year.
The award was accepted by Steve Shehadey. You can read more about Bar 20 Dairy in this feature story from Dairy Herd Management magazine.
“IDFA is grateful to the Shehadey family for their vision and leadership on behalf of U.S. dairy, and we’re proud to know innovative farms like Bar 20 are paving the way for our industry to thrive,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. “Bar 20 Dairy’s on-farm energy investments and GHG reduction efforts are a model for the industry, and their visionary partnerships have paved the way for other farms to advance sustainability in dairy’s supply chain.”
“When I was young, my grandfather told me that we make milk for people’s children,” said Shehadey. “That has always stuck with us on the farm. We can’t offer anything but our best for children and the families who buy our milk. Today, that also means doing what we can to help clean the San Joaquin Valley air and be part of a climate solution.”
Bar 20 Dairy was nominated for the award by The California Milk Advisory Board.
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, Emerald, Wis. (2001); Si-Ellen Farms, Jerome, Idaho (2002); Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy, 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); Haubenschild Dairy Farm, Inc., Princeton, Minn. (2010); Brubaker Farms, Mount Joy, Pa. (2011); Sweetwater Valley Farm, Philadelphia, Tenn. (2012); McCarty Family Farms, Rexford, Kan. (2014); Hilmar Jerseys, Hilmar, Calif. (2015); Holsum Dairies, Hilbert, Wis. (2016); Jer-Lindy Farms LLC, Brooten, Minn. (2017); Schrack Farm Resources LP, Loganton, Pa. (2018); Foster Brothers Farms, Middlebury, Vt. (2019); MVP Dairy of Kansas and Ohio (2020); and Homestead Dairy, Plymouth, Ind. (2021); Hildebrand Farms Dairy, Junction City, Kan. (2022).
A call for nominations for the 2024 Innovative Dairy Farmer award will be released this summer.