FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marti Hogan
(Washington, D.C. – January 24, 2019) Foster Brothers Farms/Vermont Natural Ag Products, Inc. (VNAP), of Middlebury, Vermont, was recognized as the 2019 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year during a special ceremony this week at the International Dairy Foods Association’s Dairy Forum, in Orlando, Florida. The award celebrates U.S. dairy producers that have embraced innovation and technology, as well as industry collaboration and partnerships, to achieve greater on-farm productivity and improved milk marketing.
Robert Foster, president of Foster Brothers Farms and VNAP, and his wife, Nancy, attended Dairy Forum to accept the award, which is co-sponsored by IDFA and Dairy Herd Management.
Foster Brothers Farms, now nearly 2,000 acres, dates back to the 1930s when it had only a single-story barn and herringbone parlor. Today the farm has a 475-cow “Cow Palace” that features robotic milkers, freestall water beds, rubber mats and cow brushes and is climate controlled with a special ventilation system. The Fosters also were the first in the state to install and operate a methane digester.
In 1992 they formed Vermont Natural Ag Products, Inc. to compost manure and other agricultural residuals to produce compost soil. They follow several operational principles where their objective is to practice sustainable methods and techniques that lead to a more holistic approach to human interaction with the environment.
“We are extremely impressed with Foster Farm’s use of technology, innovation and business partnerships to build and maintain a modern, progressive dairy operation,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. “The ‘Cow Palace’ incorporates the latest in robotic milkers, and the owners use a unique heat recovery system they designed themselves along with Agrilabs Technologies to produce energy and more efficiently compost manure solids in its second business that includes Moo Organic Manure Compost Products.”
Dykes added, “Robert Foster has contributed his valuable leadership over the years to our dairy industry, and he and his family have built a dairy operation that is truly innovative. IDFA is honored to recognize Foster Farms as the 2019 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year.”
Ed Townley, CEO and president, Cabot Creamery Co-operative, Agri-Mark, Inc./Cabot, nominated the Fosters for the award.
“Foster Brothers Farms recognized decades ago that sustainable farming is paramount to survival. The family-run operation understands no one truly owns the land – they just borrow it and pass it on. That is why good stewardship is so critical. As Foster says, ‘If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you,’” Townley said.
Foster Brothers Farms is featured in the January issue of Dairy Herd Management.
Previous winners of the Innovative Dairy Farmer title are Mason Dixon Farms, Gettysburg, Pa. (1999); Clauss Dairy Farms, Hilmar, Calif. (2000); Baldwin Dairy/Emerald Dairy, Emerald, Wis. (2001); Si-Ellen Farms, Jerome, Idaho (2002); Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy, Kewaunee, Wis. (2003); C Bar M Dairy, Jerome, Idaho (2004); North Florida Holsteins, Bell, Fla. (2005); KF Dairy, El Centro, Calif. (2006); Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, Calif. (2007); KBC Farms, Purdy, Mo., (2008); High Plains Dairy, Friona, Texas (2009); Haubenschild Dairy Farm, Inc., Princeton, Minn. (2010); Brubaker Farms, Mount Joy, Pa. (2011); Sweetwater Valley Farm, Philadelphia, Tenn. (2012); McCarty Family Farms, Rexford, Kan. (2014); Hilmar Jerseys, Hilmar, Calif. (2015); Holsum Dairies, Hilbert, Wis. (2016); Jer-Lindy Farms LLC, Brooten, Minn. (2017); and Schrack Farm Resources LP, Loganton, Pa. (2018).
A call for nominations for the 2020 Innovative Dairy Farmer award will be released this summer.
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports nearly 3 million jobs that generate more than $161 billion in wages and has an overall economic impact of more than $628 billion. IDFA members range from multinational organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent approximately 90 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. The diverse membership includes numerous food retailers, suppliers, cooperatives and companies that offer a wide variety of nutritional dairy products and dairy-derived ingredients.