1. We’re a family farm, just like 99% of the other dairy farms in New York State. Our family started this farm and we take pride in carrying out our family’s legacy. Once a farmer, always a farmer.
  2. We’re quite sustainable, as are all dairy farms, in their own way. We grow the crops our cows consume to make the milk that nourishes our bodies and use the manure to fertilize the crops we grow for our herd. It’s one big never-ending cycle.
  3. We put our cows’ needs before our own. All farmers do really.  Whether it’s Christmas morning, birthdays, snow days – the cows come first. They have to. We take care of them, and in return they take care of us.
  4. Our farm is more efficient than it’s ever been. Technology is a big reason for that, but we are also continuing to learn new and improved ways to be more productive, while carefully considering the consequences.
  5. We are more regulated than ever before. Lots of state and federal rules to abide by – some are for good cause and actually help us be better farmers, others are well…just a bunch of paperwork. But we strive to stay on the up and up.
  6. There are many checks and balances to ensure the product we are producing is healthy and wholesome and done so in the right manner. Programs, tests, check-points and audits are all part of the daily routine on a dairy farm.
  7. We’re a science-based industry driven by emotion. This is a tough one, but it’s the reality we live in today.  While there is plenty of research done to advance new techniques and practices, if the consumer doesn’t like the way something smells (so-to-speak), we probably won’t be able to use it long. 
  8. We’re price takers, not price makers. The federal government sets the price of milk, not us. It’s based on a crazy antiquated formula that currently isn’t even covering our costs of production. Something needs to change.
  9. The average sized New York dairy farm is 125 cows but there’s no right or wrong sized farm. We need them all in order to survive and continue to support the existing agribusinesses in the area.
  10. We take a lot of pride in being an integral part of the community. Every dollar produced on our farm is multiplied in the local community through local purchases at the parts and hardware, the feed dealer, the veterinarian, tractor dealership and more. We also help keep taxes lower as the land we pay on does not require as many public services as a private home. 

Jessica Ziehm is the Executive Director of NYAAC, but is also a fourth generation dairy farmer, living on her husband’s family farm in Washington County where they milk 1,100 cows and crop over 2,300 acres.