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Down the Road: Jisa Farmstead Cheese near Brainard, Neb. has been making cheese from the family dairy’s milk since 2005.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

March 31, 2023

2 Min Read
Dave Jisa holding several packages of Jisa Cheese
ON FARM: Dave Jisa began farming and dairying with his father, Lad; today, the family continues the dairy tradition, milking Holstein cows and processing its own milk into unique flavors of cheese. Photos by Curt Arens

There are only a handful of dairy processors in Nebraska, and even fewer dairies that process their own on-farm dairy products.

Dave Jisa and his team at Jisa Farmstead Cheese near Brainard, Neb., have been operating an on-farm plant since 2005, so they are good at it. The family dairy began with Dave’s father, Lad, in 1946, after he returned from military service in World War II. The dairy became Grade A in 1950.

5 packages of Jisa Cheese

Today, the family farms around 2,500 acres, but they also have found a way to combat fluctuating milk prices and to make their 300 Holstein milk cows pay their way by developing a cheese plant and retail store on the farm.

With help from the University of Nebraska Food Science and Technology department, Jisa came up with a plan for their new venture in cheesemaking: building a 6,000-square-foot, on-farm cheese plant, acquiring the necessary coolers, vats and equipment.

Jisa and his team now process their own pasteurized whole-fluid milk into myriad cheese flavors like Smoked Bacon, Spinach and Artichoke, Tomato Basil, Buffalo Wings or Garlic Parsley. You can’t forget California Garlic Pepper, Havarti Bell, and Dill and Ranch — but over the years, Havarti Bell has been one of their bestsellers.

Jisa Cheese sign on telephone pole

The cheeses made at Jisa’s farm have been award-winning in contests around the country. And the unique flavors Jisa and his staff have developed have allowed them to compete and build their customer base over time, providing products in various forms like grab-and-go packages of nuggets; block cheese in bars; deli loaves; and huge blocks, along with shredded cheese.

You can learn more about Jisa’s cheese products, unique flavors and about the on-farm plant and retail store online at jisacheese.com.

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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