June 10--Fourty-four of the 115 dairy farms recently recognized by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for premium performance are from Central Minnesota. Thirty of the farms are in Stearns County.
In honor of June's designation as Dairy Month, the MDA listed the farms with a somatic cell count averaging less than 100,000. Somatic cell count is a key indicator of milk quality, yields better cheese production and a longer shelf life.
Somatic cells occur naturally and are not a food safety concern. Dairy farmers monitor them because processors will pay a premium for milk with low counts. The farmers who made the list receive a certificate from MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson.
The area farms include the following producers and plants by county:
Benton -- Schmitt Dairy, Sunrise Ag (SA); Denny and Mary Popp, First District Association (FDA).
Mille Lacs -- Scott Ruis, Farmers Co-op.
Morrison -- Bob and Kaylie Gruber, SA; Calvin Beumer, SA; Dennis and Wayne Wolters, Elmdale Creamery Association; Mike Seppelt, SA; Kent Happke, Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI).
Stearns -- Jeff Blenker, FDA; Joe and Kim Engelmeyer, Land O' Lakes, Inc. (LOL); Gary and Anne Meyer, FDA; Ken Vogt, AMPI; Corey and Missy Kremer, FDA; Mathew and Barb Walz, Dairy Farmers of America; Mike and Mandy Welle, FDA; J & S Dairy Inc., FDA; Robert Mueller, National Farmers Organization; JC Dairy Inc., FDA; Kuechle Dairy LLC, FDA; Dan and Jolene Schlangen, FDA; Jeff and Wendy Middendorf, FDA; Hieserich Farm, Bongards Creameries (BC); Ron and Cindy Middendorf, FDA; Ray Lee Horst, FDA; Soo Line Dairy Inc., FDA; Charles Klaphake, FDA; Gregory Dairy LLC, FDA; Schefrs Bros., AMPI; Dale Dockendorf, FDA; Reuben and Janice Stommes, FDA; Wilwerding Dairy South, FDA; John and Kayleen Zimmerman, FDA; Felling Dairy, FDA; Funk's Midway Dairy, LOL; Scott and Denise Gathje, FDA; Spring Lake Farms, BC; Merdan Dairy Inc., AMPI; Thomas Lyle, FDA.
Todd -- Oak Glen, Nelson Creamery Association (NCA); John Kauffman, AMPI; Roger and Laura Primus, Osakis Creamery Association (OCA); Paul and Bonnie Middendorf, NCA; Keith Middendorf, FDA; Mike Motl and Kim Harff, OCA.
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