“I didn’t think I wanted to be a dairy farmer.”
A family legacy draws Tara Vander Dussen back to the farm
A fifth-generation Dutch dairy farmer, Tara Vander Dussen is a wife, mom and environmental scientist passionate about sharing the dairy story and carrying on her family’s long tradition of excellent animal care and producing quality milk. Learn what life is like at Rajen Dairy in Eastern New Mexico and how Tara’s love of family and farming drive her every day.
How long have you been dairy farming?
My husband, Daniel and I, are both fifth-generation dairy farmers. Dairy farming is a part of our heritage. After college, Daniel and I got married, and I moved back to New Mexico and on to the dairy. For the last seven years, I have been working on our dairy as an environmental scientist.
What do you like most about being a dairy farmer?
As a dairy farm mom, my favorite thing about dairy farming is the sense of family. I love raising our two daughters on the dairy. Most days, we get to have lunch as a family. The girls get to see their dad on the dairy every day. I get to work right along with my husband on some projects. Our farm is multi-generational. We dairy farm with my husband’s parents and his five brothers and their families. It really takes the whole family to make it all work.
If you weren’t a dairy farmer, what would you be doing?
When I left for college, I didn’t think I wanted to be a dairy farmer. I had no plans of coming back to the farm. I don’t know what I was thinking! Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I absolutely love dairy farming and being a part of the dairy community. If I wasn’t a dairy farmer, I would hope I could still be involved in the dairy industry, maybe in consumer relations. I love sharing with people about dairy farming.
What do you wish consumers knew about dairy farming?
I wish consumers would take the time to get to know some dairy farmers and see just how much we care about our cows and our farm. There are so many misconceptions about dairy farming. We are a large farm, but we are still family owned and operated. Any day of the week, one of us will be here at the dairy caring for our cows. Dairy farmers are truly passionate about what they do. I think it would surprise people to learn how much time and thought goes into every detail of caring for our cows. We have vets and nutritionist that help us make the best decisions for the cows.
What is your favorite dairy product?
It’s too hard to pick just one dairy product that’s my favorite. It changes throughout the day. In the mornings, I can’t live without my Fairlife chocolate milk in my mochas. And for lunch, there has to be cheese on my burger or burrito. And for dessert, who doesn’t love ice cream?
Where does your milk go?
Being that we are located in eastern New Mexico, most of our milk is made into cheese. Our town is home to the world’s largest cheese plant. That might surprise people that New Mexico produces a lot of cheese. Move over Wisconsin! New Mexico is making cheese!
To learn more about Rajen Dairy, check out www.newmexicomilkmaid.com or follow Tara and her family on Instagram @newmexicomilkmaid!