Little Falls' Enchanted Dairy Named 2011 Minnesota Producer of the Year
Its name is straight out of the storybooks, but the commitment Enchanted Dairy has to its cows and community is no fairy tale. The Minnesota Milk Producers Association named Enchanted Dairy in Little Falls Minnesota's 2011 Producer of the Year on Nov. 30 during the Midwest Dairy Expo in St. Cloud, Minn. Each year Minnesota Milk recognizes one outstanding dairy operation as the Producer of the Year for having a proven commitment to the dairy industry, managing its farm for future generations, and for being active in their local community.
Enchanted Dairy, LLP, is operated by brothers Ron and Marvin Miller, who began by milking 75 cows on the traditional tie-stall dairy where they grew up. They significantly expanded their business in 2000, when they began construction on a state-of-the-art 40-stall internal rotary parlor, featuring free-stall barns with mattress bedding. Today, they own 1,700 dairy cows and 1,500 dairy heifers, and raise 2,200 acres of alfalfa and corn. The family's mission is to produce safe, high-quality, wholesome milk using environmentally friendly methods and by focusing on the comfort and well-being of their cows.
"Animal care and comfort is a top priority, so much so that we refer to our cows as our business partners," says Ron Miller, Enchanted Dairy's general manager. "All of us strongly believe we're stewards of our animals and the land we farm." Enchanted Dairy's mission statement is "Growing for the Future," and its leadership team -- which includes Ron's wife Jeannie and daughter Brooke -- is working to build an efficient, profitable and modern farm through good management and professional dairy practices.
Growth and the future are considered in just about every decision the dairy makes. An aggressive management program has added 600 cows to the farm in the past seven years, all from internal growth. Dr. Matt Boyle, a veterinarian who does pregnancy checks and tends to the health and comfort of the herd, has high praise for the Millers. "I can honestly say I have not worked on a dairy that tries harder to do the right thing every time -- for the cow, and in terms of the decisions that they make that eventually affect the food that they're making," he says.
The commitment to quality evident in Enchanted Dairy's everyday operation is demonstrated to the public in the frequent tours that the family hosts for everyone from agricultural professionals to students to international visitors. Some tours are informal with one tour guide; others are more formal with educational stations manned by industry experts. Over the past 12 years, Enchanted Dairy has given tours to thousands of visitors.
"Enchanted Dairy's open-door policy and its tradition of showcasing its animal- and environmentally friendly practices are great examples of how Minnesota's dairy industry is working hard to make sure the public understands what happens on a farm, and gets to know the people behind the product," says Bob Lefebvre, Minnesota Milk Producers executive director.
When combining both production and processing, Minnesota's dairy industry has an annual output value of $11.6 billion and an employment impact of more than 40,000 jobs, according to Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Approximately 99 percent of Minnesota's 4,475 dairy farms are family-owned.
ABOUT THE MINNESOTA MILK PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION
The Minnesota Milk Producers Association serves as the "Voice of Minnesota's Dairy Industry," a grassroots organization for the industry with a democratically elected board of dairy farmer directors. Its mission is to promote a positive image for the dairy industry while protecting dairy producers' business interests and way of life. For more information, visit www.mnmilk.org.