Benthem Brothers Dairy awarded 2021 MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year


EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) Benthem Brothers Dairy is honored with the 2021 MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year Award. The dairy is a family operation run by brothers Doug and Bruce, along with Doug’s son Jason and Bruce’s sons Ryan and Kyle. The award is given by the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University (MSU) and will be presented during the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference, which will be held virtually Feb. 4-5, 2021.

Benthem Brothers Dairy, located in McBain, Michigan (Missaukee County), started with 30 cows in 1981, when Doug and Bruce took over the family farm started by their parents Edwin and Trina Benthem in the 1940s. Today, Doug and Bruce are in the process of transitioning the farm ownership and management to their sons, while providing leadership and counsel.

Character, unity and teamwork were evident, when representatives from the Department of Animal Science and MSU Extension visited the farm. “The family trusts one another and their employees and look to each other to make sure all aspects of the farm are managed and maintained”, said Phil Durst, Extension Educator in northern Michigan.

The nomination statement encapsulates the reason Benthem Brothers Dairy was chosen for this award: “Their forward-thinking nature has allowed them to successfully grow and adapt to the challenges facing the dairy industry and has proven them a role model amongst Michigan dairy farmers.”

The dairy has grown to around 2,850 cows. Expansion was accompanied by increases in acreage as opportunities arose, including purchase of the original Benthem homestead farm dating back to the 1880s, as well as infrastructure upgrades and additions.

The history of the farm and its trajectory were featured in a virtual farm tour during the 2018 World Dairy Expo. This virtual tour emphasizes the family’s appreciation for their employees and cow welfare. Ryan Benthem noted that “providing a quality working environment…gives us good quality employees. That’s the key for our farm. We have great employees we can rely on every day.”

In the words of the nominator, “their congeniality and open-farm policy to any of their fellow producers make the Benthems an outstanding neighbor, dairy producer and nominee for this award.”

“The Benthems are leading the way in using new technologies which benefit farm economics, employee satisfaction and animal welfare,” said Dr. Dale Rozeboom, interim co-chair of the Department of Animal Science. “It is with great pleasure that the MSU Department of Animal Science recognizes the Benthem Brothers Dairy as the 2021 MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year.”

To read more about the Benthem Brothers Dairy click here.

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