Dairy farmers are business people through and through, and do things that make economic sense. Those same practices not only help the environment, but are also socially responsible for local communities and for our planet. This certainly is the case at Prairieland Dairy in Firth, Neb.
Prairieland Dairy is a creative partnership between four families allowing everyone to focus on what they do best and pursue their passion for stewardship. In addition to milking 1,600 cows and farming 600 acres, Prairieland is home to a processing plant—Prairieland Foods—and a composting site—Prairieland Gold.
Expanding and diversifying the Prairieland business not only makes sense on paper, but also provides opportunities for younger generations and allows Prairieland Dairy management to embrace their role as environmental and community stewards.
"We take all of our commitments very seriously," says Dan Rice, general manager of Prairieland Dairy. "And, none more so than our commitment to sustainability."
One visit to Prairieland confirms that sustainability commitment. From the efficiently built barns that bring great cow comfort—to automatic cooling, waste management and pest control systems—each has a role in the farm’s sustainability solutions.
The partners at Prairieland Dairy focus on efficiencies that benefit the environment, as well as their pocketbook. Estimated savings of more than a quarter of a million dollars in energy, water and equipment have been realized by utilizing gravity, geothermal properties of well water and natural wind to their advantage. Prairieland's management team recently completed a farm energy audit which revealed small changes that provide big cost saving opportunities.
Equally importantly, Prairieland Dairy helps to build the community. By generating 50 local jobs and being the largest employer in town shows they wholeheartedly believe in building relationships with their neighbors. That's one reason why they warmly welcome 20,000 visitors each year for ice cream socials and their annual Prairieland Dairy Days, showing the community where and how their dairy products are made.
While they clearly are successful business people, the people at Prairieland simultaneously made a better local economy that provides environmental benefits through composting and renewable energy, as well as increasing community awareness of the dairy industry's sustainable efforts—in spades.
As leaders in environmental, social and economic sustainability, Prairieland Dairy has paved the way for success both now and for generations to come.