March 30, 2018
All say cow care is critical to milk quality
Andover, Mass.: One farm family from Massachusetts and two from New York State have been recognized by the Agri-Mark dairy farmer cooperative for their efforts to produce exceptionally high quality milk for the region’s consumers during 2017.
The Richardson family of Warren, Mass.; the Davenport family of Ancramdale, N.Y.; and the Dimock family of Peru, N.Y.; produced the highest quality milk for Agri-Mark last year, in that order.
“Superior milk quality is the key to our award-winning Cabot and McCadam products. Our farm families take pride in their brands and work hard to produce the best milk possible because it translates into high quality dairy products for our consumers and increases their income,” says Ed Townley, Agri-Mark CEO.
All of Agri-Mark’s farm families are eligible to receive additional premiums for their milk if their herds can meet the high milk quality standards set by Agri-Mark that exceed state and federal minimum standards. This premium money is a welcome source of added income for many farm families, and is a strong incentive to provide the best milk possible to their co-op and its customers.
Young dairy farmers Brian and Heather Richardson of Massachusetts say that the family works hard every day to make sure their cows have the best animal care and nutrition. They milk 40 cows in the central part of the state and run the farm with the help of Bob and Martha Richardson, Brian’s parents. This is the third year in a row that they have won the top award from Agri-Mark for producing the best quality milk in the entire co-op.
“Only happy, healthy cows make great quality milk, so much of our time is spent taking care of the animals to make sure that they are comfortable,” says Heather. “We constantly monitor our herd’s milk quality records to try and pinpoint or anticipate problems before they occur. Our high milk quality directly stems from our meticulous attention to detail and conscious daily effort to ensure the cleanliness of the cows, the stalls and the equipment.”
Jim and Karen Davenport also believe in cow cleanliness, comfort and health as essential components of milk quality. Jim monitors his herd’s milk quality record closely, to ensure his farm is producing the best milk possible for consumers.
“You need to start with clean and healthy cows, a good, consistent milking routine, really clean milking equipment and a bulk tank that is cooling the milk fast. Those are some of the more important factors that help us consistently produce high quality milk,” says Jim, who milks 64 cows on his farm 60 miles south of Albany in Ancramdale.
Some of Jim’s high quality milk is marketed with Agri-Mark, and some is also bottled into the Hudson Valley Fresh brand that Jim owns with 14 other local farmers. Hudson Valley Fresh milk is marketed to consumers in Hudson Valley and the New York metro area.
The Dimock family farm has three generations working on their farm, which is 150 miles north of Albany, just south of Plattsburg. Don and Martha Dimock own the farm with their son Bruce. Their daughter Anne also works on the farm full-time, as does Bruce’s son, Sam, and his wife Karlie. The family milks 300 cows and they are consistently among the top farms within Agri-Mark for milk quality, having won the Overall Top Quality Producer Award and placed among the top three in Agri-Mark several times.
The Dimocks are particularly proud of the fact that they often milk more cows than many of the Top Quality Producers, demonstrating that their methods for high quality milk production and attention to detail can be upscaled to larger family farms.
“We believe in cow cleanliness, health and comfort,“ says Don. “You need those three to start with in addition to the drive and enthusiasm of valued employees. We could not do what we do without them.”
Don says the Agri-Mark Quality Incentive Program allows him to reward the farm’s employees financially for their valuable time and effort. One tool he uses is the e-mail transfer of quality information from Agri-Mark to him, his son Bruce, and herdsman Greg Palmer on their individual e-mail accounts. The timely transfer of that information helps them see the beginning of a problem before it gets out of hand.
“These three farms are not only among the best in the region, but among the best in the entire nation in terms of the quality of the milk they produce on their farms,” says Neal Rea, a dairy farmer from Cambridge, N.Y. who serves as the co-op’s Chairman of the Board. “Agri-Mark farms produce great quality milk, but these three farm families deserve particular recognition for the time and devotion they have shown to work with their herds of cows to produce exceptionally high quality milk month after month throughout the year.”
All three of these farms will be recognized at the Agri-Mark annual meeting in April where they will receive plaques and cash prizes. The overall Top Quality Producer – the Richardson family – will receive $1,500, while the Davenports will receive $1,000 and the Dimocks will take home $500.
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Agri-Mark, the premier dairy cooperative in the Northeast, markets more than 336 million gallons of farm fresh milk each year for 1,000 dairy farm families in New England and New York. The cooperative is headquartered in Andover, Mass., has been marketing milk for dairy farmers since 1916, and actively represents their legislative interests in the Northeast and in Washington, D.C.
Agri-Mark farmers own the award-winning Cabot brand of Vermont Cheddar, butter and other dairy products in addition to the McCadam brand of New York Cheddar, Pepper Jack and other cheeses. Agri-Mark has also invested in operations to manufacture and market valuable whey proteins globally while also marketing fresh fluid milk from its local farm families to the region's largest dairy processors. For more information about Agri-Mark, visit our web site at www.agrimark.coop.