USDA-FSA administrator tours Mighty Grand Dairy in Brighton

Val Dolcini, USDA-FSA administrator (left) and Myron Daniels discuss Mighty Grand Dairy's new calf barn.

Val Dolcini, USDA-FSA administrator (left) and Myron Daniels discuss Mighty Grand Dairy’s new calf barn.

A Brighton farm was included in a three-location tour of Racine and Kenosha County farms made Monday by the administrator of the US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency administrator.

Val Dolcini, FSA administrator, toured Mighty Grand Dairy in Brighton and talked with co-owners Myron Daniels, Dave Daniels and Gene Weis. Earlier he visited two Racine County farms. Wisconsin USDA-FSA Executive Director Patty Edelburg was also along.

Dolcini said the farm visits were part of what he tries to do while visiting states — meet with employees and also meet with farmers, essentially the customers of FSA, “to see if there’s things I can do to make good programs better.”

FSA is an agency of the USDA that serves farmers, ranchers and agricultural partners through the delivery of agricultural programs, such as loans and disaster programs.

Mighty Grand Dairy was created in 1997 with the merger of the family farms of the three co-owners. The arrangement allowed the farm to realize some economies of scale and enabled each of the partners to specialize in the areas of the farming operation that interested them the most, said Dave Daniels. It also allowed them to get more time away than they would if they were each running their own operation alone.

At MGD (which also is the initial of the partners’ first names), Dolcini said he had not before seen an automated calf milking operation such as the farm installed in December. The calves have their own barn, where they can roam freely. When they want to nurse, they can approach a teat attached to a computerized machine that monitors when and how much each calf takes in. If the calf has had enough for that time period, the computer refuses feedings until the calf needs milk again.

“It mimics the calf in the pasture with the mother,” said Myron Daniels of the calf feeding system. “It’s worked out well. It hasn’t made it any easier. They’re growing better, but I’m standing in front of the laptop more.”

The farm has a herd of about 500.

“This is a wonderful example of a family dairy operation,” said Dolcini near the end of the tour.

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Val Dolcini (left) and Gene Weis

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In the MGD milking parlor.

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From left: Gene Weis; Myron Daniels; Patty Edelburg, state USDA-FSA; Val Dolcini, USDA-FSA; and Dave Daniels.

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