Minnesota Milk Producers Association named Blue Diamond Dairy in Melrose Minnesota's 2012 Producer of the Year at the Midwest Dairy Expo in Saint Cloud on November 27. 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.
Blue Diamond Dairy is operated by husband-and-wife team Glen and Sadie Frericks. The couple began farming seven years ago and purchased Blue Diamond five years ago.
"Before we were even engaged, I decided that if we ever milked cows, we would be Blue Diamond Dairy'," said Sadie Frericks. The name is a combination of the names of the dairies where Glen and Sadie grew up. "Blue diamonds are the toughest substance on earth, and they're also very beautiful," said Sadie. "After farming, I really appreciate the symbolism and the need for a certain toughness to be sustainable in this industry."
Today, the Frericks own 75 cows, plus a small flock of laying hens and an assortment of other farm animals. Blue Diamond Dairy is what they call a "hybrid dairy," where the herd lives and grazes outside in the warm months and moves inside during the freezing months, eating mixed ration. The Frericks' primary goal is to constantly make the farm better for the animals, the environment, their family and their community.
"Most of the first decisions we made after purchasing our farm focused on improving animal comfort and reducing our farm's environmental footprint," Glen Frericks said. "All of the improvements we've made to our farm in the past five years have also stimulated economic activity within our community." A few of the initial improvements included outfitting the barn with better stalls, ventilation and lighting and a manure storage system. These upgrades allowed Glen and Sadie to then focus on improving forage quality, animal health and milk quality.
Another goal of the Frericks' is to open the dairy to the public, which they have been able to do recently and plan to do more of going forward. Last fall, they held a training session for energy auditors on the dairy, and this summer the family hosted a troop of Girl Scouts from St. Paul who camped in the yard, toured the farm and learned about dairy farming.
"It is a great honor to be named Producer of the Year. There are so many deserving dairy farms in Minnesota we are very humbled to be chosen to represent Minnesota's dairy industry," Sadie Frericks said. "We will continue to look for ways to share our farm and our story with our consumers and our community."
"Blue Diamond Dairy is a terrific example of the next generation of dairy farmers," says Bob Lefebvre, Minnesota Milk Producers executive director. "The family's commitment to constantly improving their operations in every way is a trait everyone in the industry can learn from." To learn more about Blue Diamond Dairy, visit www.MidwestDairy.com.
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 4,325 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.