Running a family farm is enough to keep anyone busy.
That’s certainly true for Jeff Post, a fifth-generation owner of Post Dairy Farms, LLC, located at 4103 Batavia Elba Townline Road, Oakfield. Nevertheless, Post makes time for still another role — that of ambassador.
His family’s farm welcomes hundreds of visitors each year, many of them youngsters from the surrounding area.
“We’ve been really active in getting people on the farm and seeing things,” Post said. “A whole gamut of people. And I’m always happy to host. Especially children with their parents, so they can know that their food is safe and where it’s coming from.”
A tradition of both excellence and openness are among the reasons Post Dairy Farm was chosen by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce as its 2015 Agricultural Business of the Year.
Mike Davis, a county legislator and manager at Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc., in Batavia, praised the farm for its role as educator.
“The Post family has hosted numerous tours for key customers, students of all ages, as well as groups of Cooperative employees and have provided all a better understanding not only of their operations, but agriculture in general,” Davis wrote in support of the nomination.
“The farm produces an extremely high-quality product using innovative technology, while also being good stewards of the land,” he added.
Post Dairy Farm has deep roots in the community. Seward Post — “my grandfather’s grandfather,” Jeff post said — began farming on Pearl Street, Batavia, during the late 1800s. The farm moved to Townline Road about 1890 “and has just grown since,” Post said.
Ownership passed to Leo Post and then Ken Post — Jeff’s grandfather — who continues to work every day. The 900-acre farm is currently owned by Jeff Post, his father Dan and uncle John.
Two other family members, Jeff’s aunt Laurie Post and cousin Kailynn Stacy, work on the farm. They are joined by two non-family employees.
The dairy operation includes about 400 cows and 300 young stock. The family grows feed corn and alfalfa for cattle, but also wheat and string beans for human consumption, Post said.
Perhaps the farm’s biggest innovation — and an attraction for many visitors — is the robotic milking system that opened in June 2010. It milks 240 cows, three times a day, Post said, and allowed the farm to significantly grow is operations without adding to labor costs.
“You have to be reinvesting in your business, obviously, to stay in business,” Post said.
The family still operates a traditional milking parlor, where 120 cows are milked an average of twice a day.
Farming — dairy farming in particular — faces numerous challenges. Two of the biggest, Post said, are depressed milk prices and the prospect of higher labor costs forced by minimum-wage increases.
Added to that, he said, are often emotion-driven concerns about food safety, labeling and animal welfare.
“That challenges farmers to be advocating for ourselves all the time,” Post said.
He hopes that advocacy, also inspires young people to consider careers in agriculture. It’s a field that needs young talent, and embraces a wide range of interests, from herdsmanship to high technology.
Indeed, the farm has hosted a Genesee County Business Education Alliance “robotics camp” for middle school students.
“This is one thing I always talk to kids about,” Post said, “even if you don’t want to be a farmer, there are so many skills that farming and agriculture support — cattle nutrition, welding, manufacturing. There’s just so much out there.”
Post Dairy Farms has racked up a number of honors over the years, including recognition as a Dairy of Distinction. It was named 2013-14 Business Partner of the Year by the Business Education Alliance, and 2014 Conservation Farm of the Year by the Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District.
Post said the Chamber award is appreciated.
“It’s always nice to be recognized for what you do,” he said.