WASHINGTON, January 27, 2021—Homestead Dairy of Plymouth, Ind. was recognized today as the 2021 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year at the International Dairy Foods Association’s (IDFA) Dairy Forum. The award is presented each year by IDFA and Dairy Herd Management magazine. Homestead Dairy is one of the largest robotic farms in North America and has been a family owned and operated dairy for more than 75 years in the state of Indiana. Brian and Jill Houin and their 14 family members have created a blueprint for how to operate a large dairy with a focus on animal health, sustainability and efficiency.

According to Dairy Herd Management, as independent shippers to the Walmart bottling plant in Fort Wayne, Ind., part of Homestead Dairy’s commitment to Walmart is to continue reducing their carbon footprint over the next five years. Moreover, they set out to generate electricity as an additional revenue stream with eventual plans to become self-sustaining. One step toward that goal was installing a methane digester in 2013. Today, they not only use the digester for their own manure management, but they’ve partnered with University of Notre Dame to recycle their food waste. This brings the community together to create more green energy and keep waste out of landfills.

The Houin family also uses the farm to educate the public about dairy farming, hosting weekly tours for schools, local officials, agribusiness leaders, and farmers from other countries.

The award was accepted by Brian Houin. You can read more about Homestead Dairy in this feature story from Dairy Herd Management magazine.

“Homestead Dairy is a model for other farms who want to be good stewards of the land they farm and good members of the community they live in,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. “By applying data and technology, the Homestead Dairy team is making sure their farm is as environmentally and economically sustainable as possible. As the dairy industry continues to march toward net zero emissions, farms like Homestead Dairy are leading the way.”

“We are thankful for the opportunity to showcase our family’s years of dedication,” said Brian Houin. “When our grandparents started the farm in 1945 with 9 cows, I’m sure they couldn’t have imagined what it would look like today. But with a continued commitment to focusing on animal comfort and sustainability, the technologies we use today are furthering our family’s dreams and helping us keep the farm in the family. We couldn’t do any of this without our employees, who keep things running—they are our farm family. We look forward to many more years of innovative dairy farming together.”

“In 2016, our CEO Doug McMillon committed to sourcing 20 key commodities more sustainably by 2025, including dairy, meat, seafood, cotton, coffee and more. Homestead Dairy’s approach to using innovative technology through the lens of sustainability for milk production is impressive, and it’s one of the reasons we sought them out. We’ve learned from their successes, and at our Walmart milk plant we are working to apply the latest technology in milk processing to get fresh, high quality milk to our customers. Homestead Dairy plays an important role in driving sustainability together, and we congratulate them for this well-deserved award!” said Adam Bradley, Walmart Manufacturing and Sourcing Director.

Homestead Dairy was nominated for the award by Allie Rieth, Farmer Relations Manager of the American Dairy Association of Indiana.

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); Schrack Farm Resources LP, Loganton, Pa. (2018); Foster Brothers Farms, Middlebury, Vt. (2019); and MVP Dairy of Kansas and Ohio (2020).

A call for nominations for the 2022 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 more than 3 million jobs that generate $159 billion in wages and $620 billion in overall economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-plant companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, all on the cutting edge of innovation and sustainable business practices. Together, they represent 90 percent of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. Delicious, safe and nutritious, dairy foods offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages.

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Andrew Jerome

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