The Kraft Family
Chris Kraft is a member of the NMPF Board of Directors, representing Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. Kraft Family Dairies, near Fort Morgan, Colorado, runs two operations. Badger Creek Farm is considered home, where the Kraft family milk 1,300 cows. Quail Ridge Dairy is 3 miles south, where they milk 4,300 cows, all Holstein. The Krafts also farm 850 irrigated acres of corn and alfalfa, which they feed to the cows as forage. Chris and Mary are the owners. They work with son Stratton and 75 employees whose main jobs are caring for the animals.
What do you like the most – and the least – about working as a dairy farmer?
The work is with cows, animals that we’ve been around our whole lives. Mary is fourth-generation dairy farmer and I grew up with Jersey cows on mission farms in South Africa. It is very rewarding work. We are constantly learning and taking the test at the same time, which keeps us sharp and diligent. There is little room for error and constant reminders of incomplete or incorrect work that can really hurt pride and pocketbook. The work requires constant caring and growing of living creatures that totally depend on us every day, but who give it all back rain and shine. The office work is necessary, but tedious. Mary is superb at it, but she would still prefer to be outdoors working, giving a tour or riding a horse.
Describe how the work on the farm is shared or divided up in your family?
We run our farm much like a business while prioritizing people and animal care. I am the CEO, Mary is the CFO, and Stratton does the farming and is in charge of the shop and equipment needed for everyday operation. Floyd Bork is our general manager. All of us have done all of the daily tasks on the farm for many years, so we understand the work. We help out when needed, train and generally keep things moving forward, as well as covering days off.
How do you think your farm’s business plan will change 10 years from now?
The basic function of producing high-quality human nutrients will not change. As our people’s skill sets grow and change with experience, technology, regulation and consumer expectation, there will be role and compliance changes for all of us. The cattle, land and environment in our care will always be the primary focus so that it can be passed on to future generations in the best condition. Good for our family, good for our community and good for humans seeking high-quality, very nutritious food.
During those days when things aren’t going well, what do you do to keep a positive attitude?
Happily on a farm there is always a quiet place in a cow pen or a field where peace can be found. The landscape, sky, animals and crops have a powerful calming effect with the sights, smells and sounds that I always find uplifting. Our family, employees, friends and neighbors are all very supportive and understanding. There is nothing a smiling, hugging grandchild cannot wash away.
What would you be doing if you were not a dairy farmer?
Mary has a degree in technical journalism and an MBA. I have a degree in animal science, and we both have years of experience herding cats. We could find something, but it may not be nearly as rewarding as working with family, good people, animals and the land.