As part of our quest to solicit 20 questions from 14 dairy farmers this year, we’d like to introduce our next dairy farmer extraordinaire… Brad Almeter! Brad went to school with my husband and is always a source of good information and advice for him. Farmers work independently – no two farms are operated exactly the same. But it’s always great to have a buddy to bounce ideas off of or get a second opinion from – and Brad is that guy! He and his family have a gorgeous farm in Western New York and is the perfect farmer to share with all of you! So without further ado – meet Brad Almeter!
1. Who are you?
My name is Brad Almeter. I am 33 years old and a sixth generation dairy farmer from Strykersville, New York.
2. Why are you a dairy farmer?
I grew up living on my family’s dairy farm. I really enjoy all the seasons on the farm, raising crops, harvesting crops, and working with the cows. I like being able to see my hard work help our business grow.
3. How would you describe your farm?
Our farm is a deep-rooted family farm. It is called Breezy Hill Dairy as it sits on top of a hill where there is always a breeze – so much so that we now have a wind farm around us. My family and I farm 2,000 acres and milk 800 cows. We strive to make every part of our farm the best that it can be.
4. What is your favorite thing to do on the farm?
This is a hard question to answer, as there are so many things I enjoy about farming. Breaking ground for the first time in the spring, the smell of freshly mowed hay, getting up early to feed our cows, and delivering a baby calf that may not have survived without my help are some of the things I do that make my job very satisfying.
5. How many hours do you typically work in one week?
It is difficult to put a number on how much I work. I live on the farm, and even when I go on vacation I find myself at farm shows or touring other farms searching for new ideas. If I had to give a number, I would say 70 hours is an easy or average week, and working 100+ hours is not uncommon during planting and harvest season.
6. Did you go to school to be a farmer?
I did. I went to Cornell University, and studied Animal Science and Ag Business. During that time, I was able to spend a year in California going to school and working on a few different dairies. Getting off the family farm for a few years and seeing other parts of the world was an experience that I will value for the rest of my life.
7. What do you do for fun off the farm?
My wife and I enjoy being outdoors, snowmobiling, hiking, camping, spending time with family, going to farm shows, and touring other farms.
8. What personality trait makes you a better farmer?
My drive and determination.
9. What challenges you as a dairy farmer?
Our biggest challenge on the farm is finding local, qualified help that have the work ethic, motivation, and desire to help our business succeed.
10. What is one thing that you are most proud of in regards to the farm?
It means a lot to be part of a sixth generation farm that has not only survived all those years, but thrived and holds a lot of potential for the future.
11. Do you do anything special for your cows or calves?
We do many special things for our cows and calves. We use foam mattresses to keep our cows comfortable, we put blankets on all our calves in the winter to keep them warm, we sprinkle water on our cows in the summer to cool them off on hot days, and we work really closely with our nutritionist to be sure our cows are getting a balanced diet.
12. What is one thing that you recycle, reuse, or repurpose on the farm?
We take our manure that we have stored and inject it just below the surface of the ground for fertilizer. By doing this, we cut our chemical fertilizer usage by nearly 70% and have as good or better crop yields, while eliminating odor.
13. What do you usually wear to the barn?
Carharts, hoodies, and Redwing work boots are the only thing that will hold up to the rugged workweek on a farm.
14. Where does your milk go?
We are part of Upstate Niagara Co-Op, which is a small farmer owned co-op. Upstate Niagara has just under 400 members. Our milk is used for fluid milk under the Upstate Farms brand name, cottage cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt, butter, and Western New York’s famous Bison chip dip just to name a few.
15. What is your favorite dairy product?
Let’s see…. milk, cheese, yogurt, chocolate milk, bison chip dip…but if I had to name just one, I would have to say vanilla ice cream!
16. When was the last time that you took a true vacation that didn’t involve a farm meeting?
In November, my wife and I went to Jamaica for our honeymoon. We were married in September, but due to crops we chose to take a delayed honeymoon.
17. What was the last movie that you saw in movie theatre?
I can’t think of the last time I even went to the movies but, we were given a gift certificate to go so we plan to make it happen soon.
18. What is the next innovative thing you plan to implement on your farm?
Within the last year, we have been starting to use GPS (Global Positioning System) technology for fieldwork. It is a work in progress, but we plan to move forward with it this spring. GPS will help us be more efficient and precise with planting and harvesting crops.
19. What color tractors do you drive?
We have a wide verity of tractors on our farm, including Case IH, Challenger, John Deer, Fendt, Claas, and New Holland. Out of all the brands that I have Case IH is my favorite.
20. Do you accept visitors to your farm?
Absolutely! We really enjoy when people come to the farm and show interest in what we do. Having the opportunity to show the public how things operate on a modern dairy farm is a lot of fun. This June, we are holding an event on our farm called Agri-Palooza. This is an educational event that will allow the public come to our farm and learn about agriculture in Wyoming County.