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The Minnesota Milk Producers Association has named the Otte family of Square Deal Dairy at Randolph, Minnesota, its 2016 Producer of the Year. The award was presented during the Minnesota Milk Dairy Conference and Expo in St. Cloud Nov. 30. They were selected on the basis of their involvement in the dairy industry, their commitment to the future, their activity and interest in dairy, and their participation in the community.
“We have always believed that we are dairy producers, not just cow milkers,” says Blake Otte. “We are constantly looking into and improving the facilities for cow comfort, as well as investing in new technology.” Square Deal Dairy built a new double-10 parallel parlor in 1997, upgrading from a barn originally built by Blake Otte’s grandfather. The parlor and free stalls were improved again within the last three years.
In addition, the Ottes have recently invested in electrical upgrades to address the challenges presented by stray current. A new manure system allows them to separate manure solids and re-use them for bedding.As fourth-generation dairy producers, Blake and Christine Otte work with their son, Tyler, and his wife, Kelsey. Their son, Bret, and his fiancé, Kayla, assist while also holding off-farm jobs. The youngest son, Eric, is attending college. Twelve employees assist the family in running the 500-cow dairy and 1,500 acres of owned and rented land. The Ottes also operate a custom bale wrapping and chopping business.
In addition, the Ottes have been involved in 4-H, FFA, school and church activities. “Representing a family farm that has been in the local community for more than 120 years, we have always felt the importance of being active and giving back,” Blake says. “We’ve raised our sons to follow that same path.”
As Producers of the Year, the family receives a $1,000 scholarship toward educational programming, a trip to the conference where the award was presented, and a framed and matted art print.
Minnesota Milk Producers Association is a membership organization representing grassroots dairy farmers through policy work, education and membership development. Our work is vital to the future of Minnesota’s dairy industry and is directed by a board of dairy farmers elected by their peers. For more information, visit www.mnmilk.org.