RESTON, Va. — Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative honored two farm families as producers of the year and two families as producer of the year finalists at its 99th annual meeting during the member recognition luncheons in Hickory, North Carolina, and York, Pennsylvania. The producer of the year award is a new recognition for the cooperative.
Steam Valley Farms
Producer of the Year Finalist for Federal Orders 1 and 33 is Steam Valley Farms, The Steel Family, Dover, Ohio. John and Paula Steel operate Steam Valley Farms. They are the third generation to till the land since John’s grandfather purchased the farm in 1939.
Today, John and Paula farm with their two adult sons, Nathan and Clinton. Nathan and Clinton are the fourth generation on the farm. Nathan and his wife Megan have three daughters and Clinton and his wife Kameron have two daughters.
“There is nothing better than to get to work with your children and grandchildren. It makes it all worthwhile,” Paula said.
The Steels milk 140 cows in a double seven parlor. They farm 450 acres of cropland on which they grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and grass hay and some wheat for straw. Paula is the primary milker seven days a week. Nathan is the herdsman and oversees the herd health, vet checks and genetic work. Clinton handles the feeding, crop management and mechanical maintenance.
“One of the things I’m proud of is the improvements we made in cow comfort,” said John.
The Steels took out the rubber mats and went to deep bedded sand and have found they’ve improved production and cow health as a result from the cow bedding.
“Farmers need to be transparent so that people who are consuming our products learn about what we do and why we do it,” said John. “We would like consumers to know we produce one of nature’s most healthy products and that we do a good job. We are caretakers of what we have been entrusted and we want to be good stewards,” he added.
Red Sunset Farm
Producer of the Year for Federal Orders 1 and 33 is Red Sunset Farm, Dave and Marie Graybill, Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. The Graybills milk 58 cows and farm 400 acres, 375 acres of which are crop land and the rest is pasture.
Winding River Farms
Producer of the Year for Federal Orders 5 and 7 is Winding River Farms, Wes Kent, Weyers Cave, Virginia. Kent, who is a first-generation dairy farmer, started his operation in 2000. His diversified farm consists of 110 dairy cows that are milked by Lely robotic milkers. He also has two poultry houses and raises about 100,000 turkeys each year and an Angus cow-calf herd along with a small feedlot. He farms 650 acres of owned and rented ground of corn, alfalfa and hay.
North Point Farm
Producer of the Year Finalist for Federal Orders 5 and 7 is North Point Farm, The Phillips Family, Waynesboro, Virginia. North Point Farm consists of three dairies. Today, four generations are involved in the farm, which has been owned by the family since the 1800s.
The Phillips have milked cows for 75 years and have shipped milk to Maryland and Virginia for 55 of those years.
Go to Maryland & Virginia’s website at www.mdvamilk.com to view videos featuring these award-winning farms.
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