Things aren’t what they used be on the dairy farm where Ian Keberle has worked since being a kid, he says. Though just 18, the Elba student has witnessed the dawning of technological miracles.
“Everything’s robotic now, like, we just installed a 72-cell robotic rotary parlor that only requires one person to manage it,” Ian said in the lobby of the Old County Courthouse in Batavia. “So the amount of automation that has been involved in the dairy industry is just astounding. I don’t think many people realize that it’s not just a job. For many dairy farmers, it’s a lifestyle. This is what my family chose to do, and this is what we love doing.”
Ian and three fellow Elba students and members of Future Farmers of America had just been upstairs in Genesee County’s Legislative chambers for a photo and reading of a proclamation for June’s Dairy Month.
All four students are active on dairy farms, with three of them working at Oakfield Corners Dairy, a division of Lamb Farms, on Batavia-Elba Townline Road in Oakfield.
For anyone that thinks farming is strictly a male pursuit, Ian’s peers can counter that notion. Maggie Winspear, 17, is in her third year of FFA.
“It's really important to get the attention from people that don't know a lot about dairy and get them to understand why we love farming so much and why we do what we do,” Maggie said. “And it's just a connection, you make a connection with the animals and the people. And it's always fun working and just coming to work at a farm.”
Ian, 18, and his younger sister Addison also work at Oakfield Corners, where their dad is a manager. While her brother will graduate this year and plans to study agribusiness in college, Addison, 15, is taking care of the clinical aspects of the job.
“I work at the calf facility, I mainly do vaccinations with them. I kind of held out a little bit here and there. I'm still kind of too young to do a lot of major activities,” she said. “Some days, it's easy. Some days, it's hard. It's kind of a mixture.”
The Batavian asked Ian what he’d want the public to know about the dairy industry it might not otherwise understand.
“It’s not just a way to make money; it’s wonderful to see the effects that you have in the community providing a good nutritious dairy product on the tables of everything,” he said.
In October last year, the Elba FFA Chapter competed in the National FFA Dairy Evaluation and Management Competition in Indiana, and Ian was one of two members awarded national gold individually, and Amelia Brewer was one of two members awarded national silver individually.
Amelia is also in her fifth year and has worked on her family’s Post Dairy Farm, also on Batavia Elba Townline Road, “for my entire life,” she said. She has no plans to slow down after going to college.
“It's been in my family for five generations. I'm hopefully going to be the sixth generation,” Amelia said. “So I've just grown up in the industry, and I've grown a passion and a love for it. So it's what I'm going to pursue in the future, and it's something I'm pursuing now.
“I would like to come back to our farm, but I also would like to set up a creamery on our farm and bring another ag tourist stop because I believe that it's very important to give people the opportunity to see where their products are coming from and get to experience what goes into making those products, because a lot of labor goes into the dairy industry, a lot of labor and love.”
The proclamation states:
WHEREAS, the Dairy Industry has contributed to the development and prosperity of our community since the earliest formation of Genesee County, and
WHEREAS, since 1937 the rich history of Dairy production and its producers has been recognized across our great nation in an effort to savor the natural goodness in one of the most wholesome agricultural products, and
WHEREAS, dairy farmers and farm workers strive to produce wholesome dairy milk which is used to make delicious dairy products like yogurts, cheeses, butter, sour cream and ice creams that provide health benefits and valuable nutritional benefit to residents locally, regionally and globally, and
WHEREAS, in 2014 the fourth-graders at Byron-Bergen Elementary School began the push and later saw signed into law, the recognition of YOGURT as New York State’s official snack, and
WHEREAS, the Dairy Industry in Genesee County is a significant contributor to the economy of our County, its Bread and Butter, allowing our landscape, citizens and businesses to flourish, and
WHEREAS, as of May 2021, the USDA Food Box Program sent over 176 million boxes to our hungry neighbors brimming with high quality Dairy products to fill a nutritional need nationally yet sourced locally. Now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Genesee County Legislature does hereby proclaim the Month of June 2023 as DAIRY MONTH and extend our thanks to the dedicated men and women who produce world-class dairy products enjoyed nationwide.