By Liz Verley, Staff Writer
Nick and Tara Meyer live on a farm south of Sauk Centre. On Dec. 2, they were the recipients of the Minnesota Jaycees’ 2011 Outstanding Young Farmer award.
Nick was raised on the farm where he and Tara live with their two children, daughter Madeline, 3 months, and Tyler, 2. The Meyers are second generation farmers on the present farm. Nick became its sole owner in 2003. He is a 1998 graduate of Sauk Centre High School and a 2000 graduate of Ridge-
water College in Willmar. His degree is in dairy management.
Tara was raised on a farm near Faribault and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a major in agricultural economics and a minor in dairy science.
Nick said, “We are very honored and appreciative to have received the Outstanding Young Farmer Award.”
“Each of the candidates were very unique. Anyone would have been a great representative,” said Tara.
The couple were married in 2007, and they both agree their most memorable experience has been “starting our family and being able to raise them on a farm.”
Farming today is a challenge. Nick said, “It is important when farming to surround yourself with people in the industry that are specialists. Use them as resources. It is a team approach. A lot of businesses have services available, but consumers don’t know about them. That is why it is important to ask. Even the local milk plants have resources available to the farmer.”
There is a lot of help out there — such as the Extension Office, Department of Agriculture, Soil and Water, etc.
One of the biggest issues farmers face, said the Meyers, is regulations.
Tara said, “Those coming up with the regulations need to use common sense. An example is the proposed ‘no dust’ regulation by Environmental Protection and the proposed ‘child labor’ law by the Department of Labor. Both these regulations, if passed, will have far reaching impacts.”
In 2010, the Meyers became participants in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center’s (MAWRC) Discovery Farms program. They will be in the program for seven years. Discovery Farms Minnesota is a producer-led effort to gather field-scale information on water quality impacts from a variety of farming systems in different settings across Minnesota.
The mission of the program is to “gather water quality information under real-world conditions, providing practical, credible, site-specific information to allow better water quality management decisions.”
At present, the Meyers milk 175 Holstein cows and raise their own replacements at the farm. On average, their cows produce approximately 1,500 gallons of milk a day. The milk is shipped to Melrose Dairy Proteins where it is made into parmesan cheese.
The Meyers have six employees that handle the majority of the milking, and Nick’s father, Gerald, helps with the daily feeding.
This past year they harvested 470 acres of corn and alfalfa which is produced for their own use on the farm. Nick said, “We are pretty much self sustained with the feed, although we do purchase the protein and minerals which are mixed with the feed.”
The Meyers hosted two field days in 2010, which involved the Department of Agriculture, Soil and Water, MAWRC and other organizations.
Nick serves on the Stearns County Farm Bureau Board of Directors. Tara is involved with the Breakfast on the Farm Program and serves as Getty Township clerk. Both are members of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association. Tara has also been involved with the Dairy Princess Program.
The Meyers will now be participants in the Jaycee’s national competition in 2012.
The Outstanding Young Farmer Program (OYF) was first started by an Iowa Jaycee, Dale Spears.
Spears felt there should be some program that would recognize the outstanding young farmers in the area. In 1951, the first Iowa State OYF award was presented. Many states recognized the importance of the agricultural industry in America and followed suit. The National Jaycees adopted the program in 1954 and recognized the first four Outstanding Young Farmers in 1955, making the OYF program the oldest national farmer recognition program to date.