Seven "Members of Distinction" Recognized at Dairy Farmers of America Annual Meeting

March 18, 2008

Kansas City, Mo. - Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA) recognized seven of its most exceptional member farms today as ‘Members of Distinction’ at the cooperative’s 10th Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Mo. These members exhibit vision, leadership and innovation in the dairy industry, and were selected as best of the best among members in each of DFA’s seven areas.

The 2008 Members of Distinction are: Abo Dairy, Sulphur Springs, Texas; DeBoer Dairy, Tulare, Calif.; Empire Dairy, LLC, Wiggins, Colo.; Esh Dairy Farm, Paradise, Pa.; Royal Farms Dairy, LLC, Garden City, Kan.; Spadgenske Dairy, Menahga, Minn.; and Wright Dairy, Lebanon, Ky.

“We are proud to recognize these outstanding members,” says Tom Camerlo, of Florence, Colo., chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “They reflect the diversity of farms across the country and inspire us all to be better dairy producers regardless of size or location.”

All seven recipients are DFA Gold Standard dairies, a designation for members who successfully participate in a program that reviews farm practices, encourages continuous improvement and recognizes member achievements. Members are asked questions in the areas of milk safety and quality, animal care, environmental stewardship and personnel management.

Highlights from each of the Members of Distinction include:

Abo Dairy, Sulphur Springs, Texas
Ken and Bobbie Miller, and their son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Frannie, milk 550 cows and are building a free-stall barn to expand to 700. Cow comfort, hoof health and cleanliness are priorities for the Millers. They are featured on www.dairyfarmingtoday.org to highlight the commitment of dairy farmers to the well-being of their cows.

DeBoer Dairy, Tulare and Wasco, Calif.
Fred and Jennie DeBoer, and their son and daughter-in-law, Willem andAnneke, milk 5,800 cows on two dairies and grow winter wheat, corn and silage on 2,200 acres. Willem has two additional dairy businesses with his brother, George. They have a trucking company that hauls milk and other commodities for dairy farmers, and a cattlebusiness where they raise 5,000 bulls and heifers. The farm maintains strict biosecurity measures and practices dairy price risk management through forward contracting.

Empire Dairy, LLC, Wiggins, Colo.
Jack and Maria Dinis, and their sons, Bill and Norm, and Norm’s wife, Britt, farm together in the desert plains of eastern Colorado. They milk 5,100 cows, raise their own replacements and grow 2,000 acres of corn. They focus on cow comfort and quality milk.

Esh Dairy Farm, Paradise, Pa.
Enos and Elsie Esh, milk 44 cows and farm 100 acres in Lancaster County. They have five children, ages two through 12, the oldest ones helping on the farm. This Amish farm was built by Enos and carpenters from the Amish community, and is powered by a diesel motor. The farm sits among 900 other DFA-member Amish farms in this agriculturally-rich area and tourist destination.

Royal Farms Dairy, LLC, Garden City, Kan.
Steve Irsik is the president and Kyle Averhoff is the farm manager of this large, progressive dairy that started eight years ago. The operation has 12,400 cows and milks 24 hours-a-day in a double-60 parlor. The keys of success for this dairy are excellent cow care and excellent people. The farm also focuses on forage quality, to keep cows healthy and produce high-quality milk. Other partners in the business include Steven Blickenstaff, Jim Bahan, Ron Hastie, Dan O’Neill and Harvey Whittemore.

Spadgenske Dairy, Menahga, Minn.
Mark and Kristine Spadgenske, and Mark’s brother, Mike, milk 200 cows and farm 900 acres of corn and hay. They prioritize cow comfort and sanitation practices, and to reduce feed costs, they incorporate byproducts from local ethanol, sugar beet and potato plants into their feed program. Mark and Kristine participate in the ‘People Behind the Product’ campaign, developed by the Midwest Dairy Association to promote dairy products using the dairy farmers who produce them.

Wright Dairy, Lebanon, Ky.
Tom and Marie Wright, farm with their three sons, Wesley, Casey and Dooley, and Wesley’s wife, Kim. In 1986, they began with 50 cows and have grown the herd to 425. They raise their own replacements and farm 810 acres, growing corn silage and hay. All the family members are involved in the business, and Tony Kirkland is the herdsman. One of the unique aspects of the farm is using shavings from a local barrel company for bedding.