June is National Dairy Month, a time to raise awareness for dairy farming.
Michigan State University Extension says Michigan is one of the top ten milk-producing states in the country.
Gingrich Meadows is a dairy farm in Leroy that started in the 1940s.
Since then, the family has dealt with plenty of highs and lows but never stopped doing what they love.
“It’s really hard to explain the love that farmers have for their land, for their cows, and for their heritage,” said Amy Martin, Owner of Gingrich Meadows.
The farm is a round-the-clock operation.
They milk about 400 cows two to three times a day, producing thousands of gallons of milk.
“Much of it goes to Leprino in Grand Rapids and gets made into mozzarella cheese, which is supplied to all your large pizza chains and restaurants. Recently, our co-op bought a bottling and processing company,” said Martin. “The dairy and food products you buy here in Michigan, for the most part, are made in Michigan, especially dairy.”
Over the years, the farm has worked to become more sustainable.
“In many ways, just being more with the crops we grow, we’re probably growing half again more at least per acre, per gallon of fuel for a kernel of corn than what was grown prior, even 40 years ago,” said Brandon Gingrich Manager of Gingrich Meadows. “Just by doing way less carbon emissions, less water runoff off the fields. The cows give way more milk than they used to. Same thing, less carbon emissions.”
The family knows first-hand that farming is not always an easy way of life.
“We have absolutely no control on the high fuel prices, on the higher fertilizer prices, and we have no control over the price that we receive for our own milk,” said Martin.
“We don’t know if we’re going to get a paycheck. We don’t know if we’re going to extra money. We don’t know the variables,” said Gingrich.
And the family keeps pushing through, despite the challenges with the farm now going on its fourth generation.
“I’m kind of proud, and all of our grandparents, great grandparents, are proud of us. It’s a big deal. I like being part of the community and having a big role in the community,” said Gingrich.
Gingrich Meadows says because of the pandemic keeping people home demand for milk increased but getting the milk bottled fast enough has become an issue.
They say supply chain issues they’ve experienced are starting to die down.