When Connie Meyer was growing up on a grain farm near Oelwein in Northeast Iowa, she dreamed of marrying a farmer and raising her family on a farm. There was one caveat, however. She didn’t want to marry a dairy farmer because of the amount of time and work that is involved.
“I made a farm call to Quarry Hill Dairy when I was working in sales for Monsanto. I met a third-generation dairy farmer named John, and the rest is history!” says Connie, who is responsible for human resources, employee management and accounting for the family’s dairy. “Yes, dairy farming is a lot of work, but I’ve also learned that it is very rewarding. There are so many great people in our industry, and this is an awesome place to raise our girls!”
Connie’s husband, John, is the Quarry Hill Dairy’s overall business manager. Their daughters, 15-year-old Kate and 14-year-old Megan, are both active on the FFA dairy judging team. They also show meat goats and dairy cows for 4-H. The girls enjoy helping at the dairy when they’re available. Kate plays softball and volleyball. Megan is a member of the track and basketball teams.
With 800 cows to milk and two active teenagers in the house, the Meyers rely on non-family members to keep operations running smoothly. Three, 8-hour shifts daily are split among 20 full-time employees at two locations. There are 10 full-time milkers, two part-time milkers, one full-time calf manager, one herdsman and two assistant herdsmen, a feeder and three people work in agronomy.
“Our employees are extremely important to us. We couldn’t do what we do without them! We’re fortunate to have a team of passionate people.” says Connie.
Milk is shipped daily to Land O’Lakes, and Connie has become very involved in consumer outreach. Land O’Lakes’ member/owners recently started working with 10 national food bloggers, only 1 of whom had previously visited a working dairy. Earlier this month, these bloggers met the farmers who produce the products that will be featuring. Connie and one other individual represented Minnesota, and other dairy farmers represented California and Pennsylvania. The three farmers represented a variety of dairy sizes and styles.
“I emphasized our focus on cow health in order to produce a high quality product to drink for milk, cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products,” says Connie. “I wanted the bloggers to understand that cows are our livelihood, so everything we do in our dairy is focused on keeping our cows healthy and happy. Decisions are made based on what’s best for the cows.”
“I hope consumers understand that we really care about our cows and our land,” Connie adds. “Every decision we make on our farm centers around the question, ‘Is this what’s best for the cows?’ Consumers can be confident the dairy products they purchase are high quality and nutritious!”
Because most consumers are more than three generations removed from agriculture and food production, Connie believes it’s important for all farmers to share their stories and “put faces” on the products we produce.
Today Connie is sharing with us one of her family’s favorite recipes for Parmesan Ranch Chicken. It’s fancy enough for #SundaySupper and easy enough to make for #WeekNightSupper. I’m looking forward to making this recipe myself. No matter when we sit down to this meal, you can bet we’ll be giving thanks for America’s dairy producers!