2012 has been a tough year for many in the livestock business, but none more than dairy farmers who have had to face high feed costs and low milk prices. One young Indiana dairy farm family has not only survived, they have even thrived. Orville and Jessica Haney of Kosciusko County milk 185 dairy cows and also produce corn, hay, wheat, beans, and oats. Orville told HAT that dairy producers are having to adapt and diversify in order to survive, “With 30 year lows in milk prices, we relied on my wife’s nursing career to keep going. That and our good land base helped keep our farm on the map.” He added that dairy farmers today need to have a good land base in order to stay in business when milk prices plunge. Not only did the Haney’s survive this year, they also managed to win the Indiana Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer Achievement Award. This award recognizes young farmers whose farm management techniques and commitment to their communities set a positive example for everyone involved in production agriculture.
Jessica said winning this award has given them an opportunity to tell the story of modern dairy farming to those outside of agriculture, “It sparked a lot of good conversations at the hospital where I work, and I was able to answer questions about dairy farming from those people who did not grow up on a farm.” Orville and Jessica represent the 6th generation to raise children and milk cows on their family farm.
The Haneys will now represent Indiana in the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award competition which will be held in conjunction with the AFBF convention January 13 – 16 in Nashville, TN. As the state YFAA winners, the Haneys receive a $6,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance; 250 hours maximum free use of one M-Series tractor (and loader, if appropriate) courtesy of Kubota Tractor Corporation; the David L. Leising Memorial Award; and expenses paid to the 2013 national convention in Nashville, TN. The two runners-up, Travis & Sara Zook of LaGrange County and Craig & Mindy Freuchte of Adams County, receive $1,000 cash prizes from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance.