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N.D. Dairy Bottles Own Milk

Family sells 'Bessie's Best' at supermarkets in Bismarck and Mandan.

"Bessie's Best" is a hit in Bismarck-Mandan.

Bessie's Best is brand label for the milk that Blaine and Kathy Goetz's bottle on their farm. They sell it at Dan's Supermarkets in Bismarck and Mandan.

"This is a great example of value-added agriculture," says Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson. "Blaine and Kathy have taken a high quality product – the milk from their farm – and are bringing it directly to the consumer."

The Goetz's have been operating the farm, started by Blaine's father, for more than 30 years. Helping out are their son and daughter-in-law, Travis and Lisa.

"We really started thinking about processing our milk a couple of years ago," Kathy says. "The fact is, though, that Blaine has always wanted to do this, just to see what could be done and how far we could take it."

They got help from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

"We are so lucky to have two very good inspectors," she says. "Orville Payne and John Ringsrud were out here or on the phone with us anytime we had a question. Between the two of them, they were with us for the whole process from the ground up, even when it was just some drawings on a piece of paper."

Blaine and Kathy now produce up to three 300-gallon batches of whole milk every week, depending on demand. The milk is sold in one-gallon, plastic jugs.

"We're working on a chocolate milk," says Kathy. "In fact, we're testing out different chocolates right now, and some of them are really good."

The Goetzs say they are hearing a demand for 2% milk, and that they are also looking into half-gallon containers.

"We've really had a good response to our milk," says Kathy. "People have told us they really like it, and like the fact it's straight from the farm."

"They're getting a good start," says Dallas Schneider, department specialist for Dan's Supermarkets. "They've got a good product, and they're doing a lot of in-store promotion. They're a really nice family to work with."

Commissioner Johnson says he hopes the Goetz Dairy will inspire other producers to look into value-added enterprises.

"There are lots of opportunities for food processing and other on-farm businesses and industries," Johnson says. "There are also a number of state and federal programs to help producers move into value-added enterprises."

Source: North Dakota Department of Agriculture

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