Farm Progress

12 U.S. dairy farmers you should know

Whether it's milk in a glass or cheese on a charcuterie board, here are the family farmers who adapted to make your meals dairy delicious.

Mindy Ward, Editor, Missouri Ruralist

June 13, 2024

12 Slides

U.S. dairy farms are disappearing, which is all the more reason to celebrate the resilient people still producing high-quality dairy products.

The latest U.S. Census of Agriculture reported a 39% decline in all farms that sold milk from 2018 to 2022. That is the largest drop in farm numbers in 10 years. Economists say that financial stress attributed to low milk prices played a factor for those who exited the business.

While there are fewer dairy farmers, those who remain are passionate about the industry, provide great care for their animals and are willing to adapt to changing consumer needs.

As Dan Rice of Firth, Neb., writes in a recent column for Nebraska Farmer: “The common denominator among successful dairy farmers I work with is the passion and fortitude of the manager or owner to never give up. … Successful dairy farmers are taking control of their operation by making long-term plans that fit their passion, strengths and abilities, and they are laser-focused on implementing that plan.”

The nation’s dairy farmers do not seek the limelight, but they deserve it.

During June, the nation celebrates Dairy Month. Farm Progress wants to introduce you to a few farmers still innovating and producing the best milk, whether as creamer to put in your coffee or cheese to slap on a ham sandwich.

It’s time we all thanked a dairy farmer. Check out the slideshow and meet our editors’ top 12 dairy farmers from across the country.

About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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