The Minnesota Milk Producers Association recognized the Metz family of Hart-Land Dairy, Rushford, Minn., as its 2018 Producer of the Year during the organization’s Nov. 28 annual conference, held at Treasure Island Resort and Casino in Welch.
The Metz family was selected based on its innovation in adding a cheese plant to the family farm operations, and family members’ social media and community involvement, which helps connect consumers to dairy farming.
“I’m known as the city kid that went farming,” says Jeff, having grown up in Minnesota City. Jeff and Mariann Metz began their first-generation farm in 1983 milking 24 cows. They married in 1985, eventually moving to their current location in Rushford. They milk about 200 cows and have an on-site creamery and storefront.
“With four kids, over the years I’ve always been thinking about how I can add value to the farm and grow our operation so that our kids can be a part of it,” says Jeff. The couple’s children — Alicia, Courtney, Brittany and Nathan — all have some involvement on the farm and cheese plant, as well as Brittany’s husband, Nick. “It’s kind of rare that all four of them wanted to come back to the farm in some aspect,” Mariann adds.
The Metz family is also active in the community through its church council and Rushford Chamber of Commerce. The Metzes also welcome tours of the farm and creamery, allowing people to see the work that goes into producing milk on the farm and the cheese-making process.
As producers of the year, the family received a $1,000 scholarship toward educational programming, a trip to the conference where the award will be presented, and a framed and matted art print.
New directors, executive committee menbers
During its annual meeting, MMPA delegates chose two new directors and two new executive committee members.
Newly elected to the board of directors are Ron Miller of Enchanted Dairy, Little Falls; and Paul Daley of Daley Farms LLP, Pine Island. Re-elected were Garrett Luthens of Skyview Dairy, Hutchinson; and Shelly DePestel of Daley Farms of Lewiston LLP, Lewiston.
Members of the 2018-19 executive committee, elected by the board of directors, are Dave Buck, Bucks Unlimited, Goodhue, president; Shelly DePestel, Daley Farms of Lewiston LLP, vice president; Bob Dombeck, Sandhill Dairy Inc., Perham, secretary; and Rick Smith of Blue Edge Dairy, Adams, treasurer.
They will serve alongside continuing board members Aaron Vogt, Vogt Dairy, Sauk Centre; Kindra Carlson, Carlson Dairy, Pennock; Kristine Spadgenske, Spadgenske Dairy, Menahga; Marianne Peterson, J.M. Peterson Farms, Pine City; Pat Lunemann, Twin Eagle Dairy, Clarissa; Tom Sedgeman, Sedgeman Dairy, Sauk Centre; and Rod Schulze, Schulze Dairy LLC, Holland.