More than 70 students attended this year’s Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow farm tour, hosted by the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation, double the amount participating in past years. Students and their teachers toured two progressive family-owned dairy farms in Central Pennsylvania and learned more about opportunities through the Penn State College of Ag Sciences during a day-long bus tour held earlier this month.
Steve and Brett from Reinford Farms Inc., Mifflintown, Pa., challenged students to never sacrifice family by trying to create a successful business, to use the strengths of each person involved, to diversify profitability, and to never stop learning. The Reinfords also explained how they use the Center for Dairy Excellence On-farm Resources to bring trusted industry professional insight and more wisdom to the table.
Sherry Craig and Pam Whitehill from Murmac Farms, LLC, told students to never give up on what they are passionate about, but find a way to make it happen. Craig challenged those who are from farms and who want to be involved in the future to communicate their desire to farm to their parents and to communicate open and honestly, never assuming they already know.
Jean Lonie and Dale Olver, representatives from Penn State, encouraged students to explore their options and take advantage of the opportunities available in agriculture. “If you eat, you are part of agriculture,” said Lonie. “It is an exciting field to be in right now.”
The students visited Reinford Farms in the morning, followed by the lunch, then a visit to Murmac Farms in the afternoon. Reinford Farms Inc. is a progressive, environmentally-minded, 610-cow dairy farm with a 28-cow rotary parlor, a 300-cow four row, a new 300-cow six row, and two other free stall barns. Reinford Farms includes a methane digester and hauls its own milk. Murmac Farms, LLC, includes 1,300 milking cows with a Boumatic Double-20 Parallel Parlor and two six-row freestall barns. Murmac uses recycled sand as bedding and use a flush system to keep alleyways clean and reclaim the sand through a sand separation system.
“We appreciate all the time the families gave the students to help inspire and fuel the next generation who want to be part of Pennsylvania’s dairy industry,” said Emily Yeiser, dairy initiatives manager with the Center for Dairy Excellence. “These farmers run their businesses very differently. Yet, they shared a common passion for the importance of family and working toward the goal of sustaining profitability to support those involved with the business.”
The Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow farm tour was offered at no cost to participants because of the funding through the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania, Elanco, and an Environmental Education Grant from the Department of Environmental Protection, with lunch for participants sponsored by Phibro Animal Health Corporation, formerly known as Prince Agri Products, Inc.