Advocacy for Education Lands South Dakota Dairy 2020 BQA – FARM Dairy Award

For modern dairy farmers, the amount of technology that goes into daily operations isn’t much of a surprise anymore. But many consumers may not realize that the industry is long past using a bucket and pail as the main tools in a milking parlor.

This is one of the reasons why Lynn Boadwine, owner of Boadwine Farms in Baltic, South Dakota, and Heidi Zwinger, herd manager at the farm, are invested in sharing the stories of the dairy and beef industry to consumers. The dairy farm opens its facilities to the public dozens of times each year through open houses, tours and school programs.

“We want people to come out and see where the cows live, to let people come inside and see what’s going on,” Zwinger said.

Boadwine Farms’ dedication to consumer advocacy, combined with its educational programs and commitment to excellence in its facilities, has earned the company the 2020 Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) – Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Dairy Award.

The farm was homesteaded in 1874 by Lynn’s great grandparents. It has grown with each generation through the family’s passion for dairy and beef, openness to new technologies and techniques, and providing continual training and skill development opportunities for its employees. As of the late 1980s, the farm had just 40 milking cows in addition to hogs. By 2000, the farm had grown to 600 milking cows. And now, more than 2,000 Holstein dairy cows are cared for at the farm, with 2,500 acres planted with rotating crops of corn, alfalfa, rye grass and forage sorghum to provide feed. The farm also employs 40 Boadwine Farm team members, dedicated to the operation and care of the animals.

Cows are milked three times each day in a double 30 parallel parlor and housed in barns equipped with ventilation and sprinkler systems. Electronic RFID tags on each cow allow the farm’s computer system to track daily milk production. The milking parlor also features lights at udder level that create a bright, cheerful atmosphere for both employees and guests, as well as allow employees to better inspect cows for disease and hygiene during milking.

The farm’s use of technology not only benefits cow comfort but increases employee efficiency and reduces its impact on the environment. Boadwine Farms also credits using the BQA and Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) programs for standardizing animal care practices and increasing the farm’s sustainability — both programs built on many of the farm’s existing protocols.

“BQA was easy to implement because we were following a lot of the guidelines already,” Zwinger said.

BQA guidelines combine common sense husbandry techniques with scientific knowledge to raise better quality cattle. The results that Boadwine Farms has seen in following BQA and FARM guidelines at its facilities have been so positive that key employees are required to maintain BQA certification, and they expect employees or contractors who haul their animals to be BQA Transportation certified. Both the BQA and FARM programs are used in Boadwine Farms’ protocols in onboarding and providing continuing education opportunities for employees, as well.

It’s important to Boadwine and Zwinger that not only are employees given opportunities for development, but that the farm helps prepare the next generation of beef and dairy producers, too.

Boadwine Farms accepts interns from South Dakota State University’s dairy science and production programs to teach them herd health management, calf care, milking procedures, and stewardship, as well as farm management practices. The farm also hosts SDSU’s Dairy Challenge Team to allow students hands-on experience in evaluating farm management.

Boadwine Farms participates in educational outreach outside of their own facilities, as well, sharing dairy and beef stories with local communities and statewide.

Each year, Zwinger and other employees volunteer to teach more than 2,000 attendees about dairy farms and milk production during Dairy Fest in nearby Brookings, South Dakota. They record videos to show fourth grade students across the state what happens on a dairy farm through the Adopt-a-Farmer program from South Dakota’s Ag United organization.

“They take pride that the milk they produce stays in South Dakota for processing and is on the shelves at local grocery stores,” said Heidi Carroll, livestock stewardship field specialist and BQA coordinator with the SDSU Extension.

Additionally, for three years the dairy has brought pregnant cows to the birthing area at the Sioux Empire Fair’s annual Pipestone Discovery Barn to show thousands of fair attendees live calf births and answer questions about livestock care and food production. The farm also leases calves to local 4-H youth to give them experience showing and working with cattle.

Through all of Boadwine Farms’ activities, everything circles back to one focus — the care and development of their herd.

“Cows are still my ‘why,’” said Zwinger. “Every day, there’s room for improvement. Five years from now, I want to see us better than we are today.”

The BQA – FARM Dairy Award is funded in part by the Beef Checkoff with additional support from Cargill. For more information on Boadwine Farms and other 2020 BQA Award winners, visit


About Beef Quality Assurance

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program funded by the Beef Checkoff that provides U.S. beef producers guidelines and certification drawn from common sense husbandry techniques and accepted scientific knowledge on how to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. BQA reflects a positive public image and instills consumer confidence in the beef industry. When producers implement the best management practices of a BQA program, they assure their cattle are the best they can be. For more information on BQA, visit

Amanda Waite Returns to Her Dairy Roots as a Farm Evaluator

Amanda Waite says she’s lucky to have fallen into the role of full-time FARM Evaluator and Animal Care Specialist for Land O’Lakes, Inc., an opportunity that brought her back to her dairy roots. Growing up on a family dairy near Middleburg, Pennsylvania, Amanda loves spending her days with farmers and cows, trekking across Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia to connect member-owners with resources to help them meet or exceed FARM Program guidelines. She never tires of the diversity of the industry and hard-working farmers focused on doing things better every day.

Tell us about your family.

My parents are some of the hardest working people I know. They started dairying shortly after getting married at the age of 19 and haven’t quit yet. Both come from multiple generations of dairy farmers and decided to start their own operation. It’s because of them that I am in this career field and because of them that I get to have some of my own cows to “play” with. My fiancé and his father fun a small cow/calf-finish operation, which I’m slowly becoming part of as well. Beef cows are less work, but not nearly as fun!

Why did you decide to become a FARM Evaluator?

I was just lucky enough to fall into the opportunity, honestly. Animal care has always been a topic of interest to me! In my first job out of college, I worked for a third-party auditing company conducting animal welfare evaluations for meat animal species. That position sparked my interest because of my animal agriculture background and the possibility of extensive travel around the U.S. and Canada. About two years into that position, travel started getting less fun. My family’s dairy had recently been through Version 1 of FARM. During the evaluation, my dad told the evaluator about me and my current role. Several months later in July 2014 that evaluator reached out to me about an open position and the rest is history. No other career could better match my dairy background and animal welfare auditing experience!

What do you like most about what you do? What inspires you?

I love spending my days with farmers and cows! These people work harder than most and are proud of the work they do – as they should be! The dedication that farmers have to their land and animals is so inspiring!

What is your philosophy when it comes to dairy cow care?

It’s been said so many times: “If you take care of the cows, they will take care of you.” We all know it’s true! In any animal industry, animals must be #1 if you want any chance of success and survivial!

What do you enjoy about being a National Dairy FARM Program evaluator?

The dairy industry is so incredibly diverse, and I get to see that diversity in action every day. Despite the differences in facilities and management, we all have the same goal of creating a safe, sustainable, nutritious product. I enjoy seeing the creative mind of a dairy producer in action. Many do not have ideal facilities or extra money in the bank, but they make it work anyway. FARM focuses on continuous improvement and there is nothing more enjoyable than going to a farm and see the improvements they’ve made.

Why do you feel FARM is important to today’s dairy farmers and the industry?

With over 85 percent of our U.S. population being several generations removed from the farm, consumers have a lot of questions and very limited access to reliable information. FARM is a way to tell our story with solid facts. Overall, farmers do a good job caring for cows! Why wouldn’t we want to share our story and deliver that message to our customers and consumers?

What are you passionate about outside of work?

It’s hard to have hobbies outside of farming when you truly enjoy farming, but I do have a passion for traveling and seeing the world. I would love to do agricultural education in developing countries. However, my main hobby or passion is breeding and caring for registered Ayrshire cattle. I’ve remained involved in my community and industry with 4-H leadership, breed association boards and county fair volunteering.

Describe your “perfect” day.

I like to channel my “inner cow” for this “perfect” day idea. Much like the life of a cow, my perfect day would consist of 55 degrees and partly cloudy. My time would be spent lounging and hanging out with friends with nothing to do all day except grab some dinner and spend some time at the local watering hole. Cows really don’t have it so bad most days.

Award-Winning Cow Care at Dry Creek Farm

Just north of Martinsburg, Pennsylvania – population 1,883 – is a smaller community of “ladies” who make their home at the award-winning Dry Creek Farm, a 230-cow dairy owned by Doug and Veronica Smith. Since 1991, the couple and their children Caroline Zimmerman and Brandon Smith have proudly continued the legacy of the multi-generational family farm –  taking excellent care of their cows and providing safe, wholesome milk for dairy-loving consumers. In fact, Dry Creek Farm was named the 2018 winner of the American Dairy Association North East’s Dairying for Tomorrow award for animal care. Hear from Doug, who details the farm’s history and the family’s commitment to happy, healthy cows.

Tell us about Dry Creek Farm.

Currently worked by third and fourth generation family, Dry Creek Farm started in 1937 with just seven cows. Today, we’ve grown to a 230-cow dairy, farming 400 acres and raising our own replacements. Farming as a family is very rewarding because we are all working together with the same goals in mind to create better farming practices for future generations.

What draws you to this profession?

Since around the age of 10, I’ve loved farm work. The entire family truly loves caring for the cows and producing a wholesome healthy product for consumers. I’ve never known anything different and can’t image doing anything quite as rewarding. In particular, I enjoy animal care and crop management.

How is dairy farming today different from when you first started farming?

The constant advancements in technology have decreased the physical demand of farming. However, the change in the market has created a need for greater business sense to manage margins and remain successful so our family can continue doing what it loves.

Winning the Dairying for Tomorrow award for animal care speaks to your commitment to the highest standards. Tell us about your commitment to cow care.

It’s at the forefront here at Dry Creek Farm. We continually look over the animals to ensure they’re happy and healthy, and make sure that everything on the farm is running smoothly. Also, over the last five years, we’ve made a number of improvements including incorporating new calf raising standard operating procedures, building a new free stall barn with cow brushes, and working closely with our veterinarian to improve other efforts for cow comfort.

P1000245What do you wish consumers knew about dairy farming?

Dairy farming is being a good steward of animals and the land to ensure future generations have access to wholesome and nutritious food.

If your cows could talk, what would they say about you?

That we’re constantly on the move to make sure they’re comfortable and happy.

Where does your milk go?

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA).

What is your favorite dairy product?

Ice cream, no question.

To learn more about Dry Creek Farm, follow them on Facebook.

Twin Mill Farms: Milking Life for All It’s Worth

Blake and Carmen Gendebien and their three boys love life on the dairy farm in upstate New York, doing their part to provide people across the country safe, wholesome dairy products – and a bit of pampering!

Along with Blake’s parents, the Gendebien family established Twin Mill Farms where they not only provide milk that goes toward producing award-winning Cabot cheese, but they produce a line of luxury bath and body products, A Wholesome Glow, which is sold at their nearby day spa using milk from the dairy and alfalfa from their fields. Their energy and enthusiasm extend to a foundation they launched that assists local families impacted by cancer.

To say they’re busy is an understatement. Read on to learn more from Blake about how the Gendebien crew juggles a non-stop schedule.

How long have you been dairy farming?

My wife Carmen and I bought the farm in 2003 and merged the farm with my parents’ family farm, which they started in 1972. The 1,000 acres Twin Mill Farms includes 400+ dairy cows.

Why are you a dairy farmer?

We left our non-farm careers in Atlanta to become family dairy farmers so we could move to the country and raise a family, which has grown to five with our three boys, Miles, Truman and Noah.

How would you describe your farm?

Our farm is like a piece of heaven to us. We’re surrounded by beautiful, thriving crops, healthy animals, three funny, athletic boys and amazing sunsets. There’s no other place on earth that we would rather be at than on our farm.

How is dairy farming today different from when you first started farming?

The coop model has become more important to provide a stable marketplace for our milk. Labor has become more of a challenge. The cost of inputs, equipment, land and labor have all increased significantly. And smart phones have really become an important part of our dairy. With smart phones, I can take care of banking matters from anywhere on the farm, communicate with employees, vendors and field support, check crop health field by field via satellite images, and promote the good news of agriculture on social media.

What is your favorite aspect of being a dairy farmer?

Carmen and I love being able to go on walks on the farm and ride our bicycles to the pond and jump in the water with our boys. We love the cows and raising the cows from calves to productive adult animals in the milking herd. And we absolutely love being outside, working the land, mowing hay.

If you weren’t a dairy farmer, what would you be doing?

Carmen and I would definitely be self-employed because we like to take an idea and make it a reality.

What do you wish consumers knew about dairy farming?

We wish consumers understood that our number one priority is to provide a safe, nutritious, wholesome product that every family feels good serving to their family.

If your cows could talk, what would they say about you?

If our cows could talk they’d say we are gentle, caring, loving, silly and very helpful in making their lives as comfortable and easy as possible.

Where does your milk go?

Our milk goes to Agrimark, which produces Cabot Cheese.

What is your favorite dairy product?

Our all-time favorites are whip cream, chocolate milk, ice cream and yogurt. It’s impossible to have just one favorite!

How do you manage farm life and spa life?

The farm and the spa are intertwined, and we work hard to make them a combined, sustainable family business where we share ingredients in spa products that come from the farm. We work together to create new ideas and share resources to make the spa and the farm wonderful places to work at and visit.

How do you balance farm schedules, spa schedules and kids’ schedules?

There is no balance to balancing schedules. Shuttling kids to soccer practice, balancing customers at the spa and managing our cows and land is simply a lifestyle that we’re in. It’s what we do daily and it’s never ending.

Is there anything else you want readers to know?

We believe in giving back to the community so we created a pediatric foundation called the Jules of Life Foundation to assist local families impacted by cancer. We throw a huge July 4th bash on the farm every year that is an international event with many friends and family of all nationalities flocking to the farm from around the country. It is the best way to celebrate Independence Day!

You can learn more about Blake, Carmen, their family and their farm at You can also find them FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Earth Is What We All Have in Common

By: Kendra Kissane, MMPA Sustainability Professional

There’s a quote by poet, writer and farmer Wendell Berry that states “the Earth is what we all have in common.”

I’ve found this quote useful to help create a common ground when having a dialogue about the importance of caring for our environment. No matter where you come from, your background, history, economic status, etc., we all share this planet and it’s in all our interests to take care of it the best we can.

While some people believe that they won’t be around to see the effects of how we take care of Earth during their lifetime, I see a great sense of environmental leadership coming from a group that you may not suspect – farmers.

Responsible farmers understand the importance of environmental improvements that come from implementing best management practices on their farms. An example of two environmental practices and improvements that have an impact on the environment are implementing a written nutrient (manure) management plan and creating a biodiversity action plan to protect and enhance our ecosystem.

Growing up on my family’s dairy farm in the village of Hersey, Michigan, I unknowingly experienced examples of proactive environmental improvement practices. One such example is over the course of about 20 years, our farm used a nutrient management plan by strategically applying waste produced by the cows on the sandy hills of an old gravel pit. Pine trees and grass were also added later to provide a windbreak for our heifers grazing throughout the summer months.

Looking back now I don’t believe my parents called either of these environmental practices what we call them today, nutrient management and biodiversity. We were just doing what was right – for the land, for our animals and for the generations to come.

Photo: Holger LRS Stieg Farm, LLC in Hersey, MI

In Michigan, dairy farmers have many resources and programs available to assist in identifying, improving and preventing potential environmental risks.

One of these programs is the innovative Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), which is a robust risk assessment that addresses four different areas to minimize agriculture pollution risk: 1. Livestock, 2. Farmstead, 3. Cropping, and 4. Forest, Wetlands and Habitats.

Another valuable tool for U.S. dairy farmers is the National Dairy FARM Program Environmental Stewardship (ES) module, which provides a comprehensive estimate of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use associated with dairy farming.

By tracking advances in dairy production efficiency through this resource, farmers can assure dairy customers and consumers of their commitment to ongoing environmental progress and identify areas for improvement. The FARM Environmental Stewardship Continuous Improvement Reference Manual is available to assist producers and farm specialist in improving their environmental footprint.

Programs like these are helping farmers across the country work to do things better each day for the environment. The land, air and water are truly a gift that must be protected. It’s a responsibility that my family and every farmer I know takes very seriously.

Kendra Kissane is the Sustainability Coordinator at Michigan Milk Producers Association. You can find her on Facebook at Fresh Coast Farm Girl (formerly Farming Chiquely) and Instagram as @fresh_coast_farmgirl.

A Family Legacy Draws Tara Vander Dussen Back to the Farm

“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 or follow Tara and her family on Instagram @newmexicomilkmaid! 

Kraft Family Dairies win 2018 BQA Dairy Award

Simply put: they care for their cows.

Ask any of the dairy workers in Colorado about Kraft Family Dairies and that’s the response you’ll get.

Since beginning their operation in 1985, Mary and Chris Kraft have made cow handling and safety a priority in every line of their production. Whether it be lowering stress levels when moving to and from the parlor, closely monitoring health through RFID enabled collars, or changing out water, beds and food regularly, the Kraft’s understand that a happy cow leads to a better quality product.

“Suave, suave,” Chris jokes. “We always talk about being smooth, being not hard on the cows. I talk to my cows with love. As I say in Spanish, ‘un amor.’”

It’s that “amor” that earned Kraft Family Dairies the 2018 BQA Dairy Award winner. They combine their compassion and precision with a focus on preventative management and beef quality assurance (BQA) guidelines throughout all stages of the on-farm production cycle.

But what really makes the Kraft’s stand out is their two-farm system that ships out close to 500,000 pounds of milk each day.

On their Quail Ridge site, the family milks 4,500 head three times daily. This is where healthy cows are kept and monitored for quality assurance and comfort.

Not too far down the road, the family also owns Badger Creek Farm, a lot that provides intensive and individualized care for hospital, maternity and special needs cows. It’s there that the family milks 1,100 cows three times daily. Thanks to this system, at any given time, less than 2% of cattle on the operation are in the hospital.

As Mary would call it, it’s a “TLC operation.”

“The Kraft Family’s commitment to cattle care and implementation of BQA principles is among the nation’s elite,” said Libby Bilger with the Colorado BQA Coordinator.

One of the most unique features of the farm focuses on well-being. The family uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) collars on each of their cows. The collar can not only monitor milk production and reproductive status, but also changes in health and behavior. That helps the Kraft’s quickly determine if an animal is sick in the beginning stages of illness.

They also use hand-held computers that connect with the collars to provide data to the herdsmen. From there, they’re able to make on-the-spot decisions about treatments, breeding and cow needs. Plus, that data is sent back to a computer and stored to record treatments, health notes, milk weights and schedule future events.

The Kraft’s believe, “you can’t manage it if you don’t measure it.”

“There is nothing more important at Kraft Family Dairies, LLC then the health of their animals and overall herd health,” Dr. Gregory Goodell with the Dairy Authority, LLC said. “As with any business one may have the best equipment in the world, but without the passion and knowledge to manage such an operation, the facility would be wasted.”

That passion shines through in how they manage the barns for their animals. Their beds are in close proximity to the milking parlor, so cows only have to travel a short, low-stress distance for milking. The cows also have access to fresh feed and water 24 hours a day. Their beds are regularly cleaned and stocked in an effort to provide comfort and cleanliness.

“Everybody sleeps better when you make your bed at home, so our cows sleep better and produce better as do our calves when they all have a fresh bed,” said Stratton Kraft, Mary and Chris’ son who also helps on the farm.

The Kraft’s also keep an “open-door” policy on their farm for consumers to learn more about where their food comes from and to allow them to experience dairy production first hand. They host about 50 tours each year for schools, chefs, international guests and many others.

On those tours, the Kraft’s showcase how the BQA standards guide what they do in order to improve consumer confidence in beef. They understand that consumers want to know more about how their food is raised, animal welfare and how food production affects the environment.

By adopting the BQA guidelines, the Kraft’s can confidently open their doors to the public to show the best practices in the business.

“I want consumers to know that I eat this beef, too,” Mary said. “I want to have a really wholesome wonderful product for my family, and I think my job as a farmer, my job as a mom, is to make sure that you and your family have the same quality food.”

For more information on Kraft Family Dairies and other 2018 BQA Award winners, visit

National  Beef Quality Assurance is a nationally coordinated, state-implemented program that provides information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how common sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. BQA guidelines are designed to make certain all beef consumers can take pride in what they purchase – and can trust and have confidence in the entire beef industry.

The FARM Program is proud to partner with BQA to work on behalf and to provide educational resources to cattlemen and dairymen.

Sustainability on a Dairy Farm

For Robert L. Foster, ensuring sustainability is all about the small steps. For decades, his operation has implemented several environmental projects that have created a culture of continuous improvement on his farm in Vermont, and have won it countless awards for milk quality, environmental efforts and quality compost.

On Foster Brothers Farm Inc., the Fosters practice cover cropping, strip cropping and no-till planting. In 1992, they founded Vermont Natural Ag Products Inc., a composting company for agricultural residuals. Robert is a resident expert and champion for renewable energy and sustainability for his cooperative, Agri-Mark. He coined the term “cow power,” which is now the name of a project between Vermont dairy farmers and Green Mountain Power. Oh, and his family built the state’s first anaerobic digester in 1982.

But most recently, Robert has become a devoted advocate for FARM Environmental Stewardship, a voluntary assessment that helps dairy producers identify potential efficiency gains, cost savings, and to track their progress. Robert inputs his farm’s data on things like milk production records, energy statements, fuel usage, and more to determine the best actions to augment his current environmental projects.

“To improve any endeavor, one needs to be able to measure progress,” said Robert. “I believe tools like the FARM ES module provide a simple way to measure progress over time. It provides validation and specific examples that give credence to how and why what we do as dairy farmers benefits society.”

Foster Brothers Farm Inc. is a fifth-generation dairy and crop farm located in the Champlain Valley of Vermont with a wet herd of over 500 cows. A truly family affair, Robert farms with his brother, cousin, daughter, two nephews and second cousin. They raise corn, hay and soybeans for feed, and rye for seeding cover crops. They also farm over 1,500 acres and manage 400 acres of woodland.

Robert is a recently retired cooperative director for Agri-Mark’s Board of Directors for 37 years. He graduated the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering and a master’s in agricultural economics. After serving in the U.S. Army, Robert returned to the farm. Besides serving as the co-op’s resident environmental expert, Robert was the director of Agri-Mark’s Young Cooperator program and of Agri-Mark’s Board of Directors.

Sustainability has been a pinnacle of the Foster family operation for over 20 years. Vermont Natural Ag Products Inc. purchases extra nutrients from farms and moves them into the broader marketplace through a line of compost products, from cow manure to potting mixes. And the Fosters have no intention of stopping there.

“My goal is to leave our businesses in a better place, and to encourage a culture of continuous improvement in the way we use resources to convert solar energy into resources for the betterment of the world,” Robert said. “I believe that agriculture has a great story about being a pioneer in sustainable stewardship.”

Bob Foster and Family