Covid-19 Affects National Dairy Month
COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to nearly all in-person events during National Dairy Month this year, but it didn’t stop South Dakota’s dairy farm families from celebrating and taking time to thank their neighbors and communities during June. Several dairies partnered with local milk processors or cooperatives and with Midwest Dairy and Ag United to sponsor dairy product giveaway and other promotions.
For the past 11 years, Royalwood Dairy near Brandon, SD, has opened their doors to the public for a Breakfast on the Farm event that has hosted up to 1,800 people for a farm tour, breakfast and kids’ activities. With no event this year, the farm is a lot quieter, but the Ode family is still sharing their story and reaching out to Brandon and surrounding communities.
This year family members participated in radio station interviews and partnered with Midwest Dairy and Ag United to give away $1,000 worth of milk in the Brandon and Sioux Falls areas.
“We are a family farm that has farmed in the Brandon community since the 1800s and we take pride in our farm and caring for our cows and land,” said Doug Ode. “We strive to produce the highest quality forages that we possibly can so that our cows produce high quality milk.”
Royalwood Farms was established in 1983 when both Gregg Ode and Doug Ode returned to the family farm after graduating from South Dakota State University. They milk about 440 cows and raise corn and alfalfa. All the crops they raise are fed back to the milking herd. Greg’s son Alex is also involved in the day-to-day operation of the dairy farm.
The Schultz family of Schultz Bros. Dairy near Freeman partnered with Midwest Dairy, Ag United and AMPI to sponsor a milk, butter and cheese giveaway in the Freeman community. The product giveaway was a way to say “thank you” to the community during a year when social distancing prevented some of the activities that the Schultzes have done in the past, including small group tours, classroom visits and product donations to community events.
“This is the first time we’ve done a dairy giveaway for the entire community,” said John Schultz, owner of Schultz Bros Dairy. “The response has been very positive. We were receiving texts and phone calls thanking us when the paper was put on the Freeman Courier web site a day before the publication was mailed out.”
John and Jeff Schultz own and operate the dairy, with their parents Mike and Vicki, involved in the daily operation of the farm. John and Jeff transitioned the dairy from their parents in 2002 and began an expansion, currently milking 2000 cows, farm 4,000 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa.
“We appreciate the support we receive from our community, including employees, neighbors, and businesses, that are involved in getting our milk from the farm to the table,” said Jeff Schultz. “We are fortunate to have many businesses in the immediate area that are able to meet our needs and keep our dairy as an asset to the community.”
Kevin and Tanya VanWinkle started VanWinkle Dairy near Canistota in 2006, where they currently milk 2,000 cows. The started doing community milk giveaways several years ago, and partnered with Midwest Dairy, Agropur, and Ag United to provide milk and cheese to Canistota area residents this year.
Kevin said the giveaways are a good opportunity to show appreciate for community members and let them know that we appreciate being part of the community. He noted that the thank you’s they receive also mean a lot.
“We truly enjoy taking care of our animals and watching them grow and mature into amazing animals that produce such a wholesome and nutritious food product that people in our community and around the world can enjoy and grow on,” said VanWinkle.
The Moes family was looking forward to hosting their annual Dairy Day on the farm event at MoDak Dairy near Kranzburg again this year, but were still able to continue their tradition of providing a free gallon of milk to neighbors and residents of Kranzburg this year. They also shared cheese sticks with contractors in the area to celebrate National Dairy Month.
“We appreciate our neighbors, so when we need services, we try to work with local farms for our dairy’s needs,” said Greg Moes. “We are here to stay for the next 125 years with our community supporting us.
The Moes family was recently recognized as a South Dakota Quasquicentennial Farm, owned and operated by 4thgeneration James Moes and Greg Moes and 5th generation Jacob Moes and Matthew Moes. They milk 2,000 cows grow corn, alfalfa, wheat and rye.
To learn more about the dairy industry and find recipes and health information, visit dairygood.org. You can also follow South Dakota Farm Families, Midwest Dairy and the South Dakota Dairy Ambassadors on various social media outlets.