Kevin Wulf, Riverview Farms, LLP answering tour participants questions at Riverview Dairy at Morris, MN.
The dairy industry is constantly evolving resulting in a desire to learn from early adopters within the industry. To help facilitate this learning evolution, the I-29 Moo University has hosted a series of fall dairy tours in the I-29 Dairy Corridor which has allowed participants to learn firsthand from tour host sites. This year the tour area was located in central Minnesota and went to Riverview Farms, LLP located at Morris, MN and Redhead Creamery, LLC at Brooten, MN on October 26th, 2016.
Riverview Farms, LLP
Thirty five plus participants participated in the tour. At Riverview Farms, LLP participants got to see the dairy beef feedlot, baby calf rearing facility and the 10,000 head dairy located near Morris, MN. Tour participants learned about the business structure of the operation, how they have engaged other neighboring producers who have become a part of the operation, how they enabled succession planning for the next generation, and how they engage, train and retain approximately 1,000 employees across the multiple business operations within the realm of Riverview Farms, LLP.
Over lunch presentations were given on the following: 1) Dairy Economics and Outlook; 2) Organic and Conventional Pasture Dairying which is being evaluated at the University of Minnesota Research Center at Morris, MN.
Redhead Creamery, LLC
The tour participants then proceeded to Redhead Creamery, LLC which is a family owned business that has transitioned from a traditional dairy that sold milk to the local milk processing plant, to a dairy that now also does on-farm processing of artesian style cheeses on the dairy and sells them to the public at the farm and other vendors. Additionally, the dairy also conducts tours of the farm regularly throughout the week, educating tour participants about life on the dairy, how animals are raised, how milk is then harvested and made into the products being sold throughout the creamery. Participants learned about the history of the dairy and how it has evolved over the years to what it is presently. Owners learned about regulatory hoops they had to work through as the creamery was added, how a marketing plan was developed and why they did what they have done to grow the family business.
Comments shared by attendees about what they liked about the tour included: “appreciated the openness of both of the dairies about their operations and how they conduct business on a daily basis” and “the new technology in the milk world”. Participants were asked to share one change they would make in their operation as a result of participating in the tour, changes listed including: do a better job on knowing my cost of production; having conversations about the different directions as dairy can go; to looking for more ways to be more labor efficient; having more discussions about environmental stewardship and antibiotic use with the public and employees; and giving ownership to employees as an incentive.
Collaborators & Sponsors
In its 12th year of collaboration, the I-29 Moo University collaboration has established a learning community which is a cooperative effort of South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and Nebraska University Extension Personnel along with the SW Minnesota Dairy Profit Initiative, Iowa State Dairy Association, Minnesota Milk Producers Association, Nebraska State Dairy Association, and the South Dakota Dairy Producers. The objective of various educational venues offered is to bring research based information impacting the dairy industry to the dairy industry.
In order to keep participation costs low, a SARE grant was obtained along with business sponsorships from Diamond V, Alltech, Form-A-Feed, and the SE Minnesota Dairy Initiative group. We greatly appreciate all collaborators as we work to enhance a sustainable dairy community along the I-29 Dairy Corridor while providing resources and education to meet the growing demand for food.