Western Dairy Operators Win Industry Stewardship Prizes

Milk farms in Washington, Nevada, Idaho named top businesses

Published on: May 1, 2013

Special national Dairy Sustainability Awards for operations in three western states were announced by the Innovation Center for U .S. Dairy.

Winners include Skyridge Farms of Sunnyside, Wash., Unilever of Henderson, Nev., and Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese of Gooding, Idaho.

The prizes are given to winners who exemplify the industry's commitment to  stewardship and sustainability.

These are the second annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards to be given by the center, recognizing dairy farms of all sizes for practices advancing healthy products.

Winners were selected based on results that delivered triple bottom line results to advance economic, environmental and social sustainability.

Winners of the 2013 Innovation Center for U .S. Dairy awards included, from left, Dan Rice of Prairieland Dairy in Nebraska; Steve Ballard of Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese in Gooding, Idaho; Renee Jacobs of Green Valley Dairy in Wisconsin; Kam Fierstine of Unilever  in Henderson, Nev. ; Mark Petersen of Petersen Petersen Farm in Wisconsin, and Dan DeGroot of Skyridge Farms in Sunnyside, Wash.
Winners of the 2013 Innovation Center for U .S. Dairy awards included, from left, Dan Rice of Prairieland Dairy in Nebraska; Steve Ballard of Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese in Gooding, Idaho; Renee Jacobs of Green Valley Dairy in Wisconsin; Kam Fierstine of Unilever in Henderson, Nev. ; Mark Petersen of Petersen Petersen Farm in Wisconsin, and Dan DeGroot of Skyridge Farms in Sunnyside, Wash.

"The strength of the award winners' stories illustrates why consumers can be confident about choosing their favorite dairy foods and beverages," explains Barbara O'Brien, center president. "These and thousands of other actions being taken every day – both large and small – contribute to the industry's overall commitment to a healthy future for the next generation."

The prizes were given following a review by a panel of judges including experts from universities, government, dairy science, farm organizations and the media.

Skyridge Farms of Sunnyside, Wash., owned by Dan DeGroot, "cultivated an organization that optimizes performance and preserves the environment," the panel announces. New lighting, occupancy sensors and a programmable logic system added at Skyridge helped win the award.

In the dairy, management can now control lighting, fans and soaker and flush systems automatically,  reducing costs and adding to herd comfort, the judges note.

Unilever in Henderson, Nev., has implemented a "sustainable living plan," which improves consumer health and wellbeing  and reduces the environmental impact of the operation, the panelists state.

At Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese in Gooding, Idaho, the judges cited the operation for eliminating propane use, saving $23,000 a year in operating costs while reducing the dairy carbon footprint by 121,000 pounds a year, and decreasing water use by 365,000 gallons a year through use of solar power, and LED lighting system, and new vacuum pumps.