Missouri’s milk cow numbers dipped slightly to start 2021 with only 75,000 head. Still, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service expects the state’s dairy farms to produce more than 1 billion pounds of milk this year.
While Missouri may not be one of the top dairy producing states in the U.S., ranking 24th in dairy cow numbers and 26th in milk production, the state’s dairy farmers work to improve their production practices and carve out niches for their products. Along the way, these farmers innovate and partner with others in the industry to make the dairy industry sustainable.
Every year, the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors Foundation recognizes leaders who move the industry forward. The 2021 honorees include:
Dairy Leadership Award. Joe Horner, a University of Missouri Extension state specialist in agricultural economics, previously served as the executive secretary for the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors and has been a fixture for more than 30 years as an Extension educator in dairy farm management and economics.
Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder Award. Schoen Farms, a third-generation dairy in Oak Ridge, Mo., earned recognition for high production and herd BAA scores. The farm is a family affair. Started by Marvin and LaFern Schoen, children John, Cathy and their families continue to expand the facilities to improve the efficiency and profitability of the farm for future generations. The family was featured in Missouri Ruralist for its unique way of keep calves comfortable with winter jackets. John Schoen also shared how his operation survived the 2012 drought.
Meritorious Service Award. Darrell Pidgeon, owner of Pidgeon Cattle Co. in Parker, Colo., has had a long career as a cattle merchandiser, judge and showman. He worked for some of the best herds, including J.C. Penney and McDonald Farms. Pidgeon even rode in railroad boxcars with the show cattle to state fairs and national shows. He exported cattle internationally to places such as Japan, Mexico, Canada and Eastern Europe. He received his master’s degree in dairy cattle genetics from the University of Missouri.
Meritorious Service Award. Eric Seifert of Boonville, Mo., is a field representative with Dairy Farmers of America. He has served dairy farmers for almost 40 years. Seifert’s dairy career began in 1981 with Mid-America Dairymen before its merger with DFA. He also was active in the Missouri Dairy Fieldman & Sanitarian’s Association, serving as president.
Pioneer Dairy Leader Award. Bob Braswell receives this award posthumously. He owned Braswell Sales Service in Ozark, Mo., and managed cattle sales in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, alongside his wife, Idonna. Braswell also established the Ozarks Dairyland Sale series, held each spring and fall in Mount Vernon, where dairy producers could consign animals for auction.
This year, because of COVID-19, the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors Foundation award ceremony could not be held in person. However, the foundation plans to hold a gathering in 2022 as a celebration for the honorees.
For more information and to see a list of past award winners, visit the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors.
University of Missouri Extension contributed to this article.