The Scheevel Family
David Scheevel is the chairman of Foremost Farms USA and an NMPF board member. He and his wife Kathy milk 130 Holstein cows and farm 250 acres of alfalfa hay and corn near Preston, Minn. Kathy also works as a loan processor for a bank in Rochester, Minn. Daughter Emily, husband Eric and their children Kylie and Cael live in Chatfield, Minn. Son Andrew and wife Rachel live and work in the St. Paul area.
What do you like the most – and the least – about working as a dairy farmer?
My favorite parts about being a dairy producer are constantly seeing the beginning life when new calves are born. Watching them grow to an adult dairy cow that can convert feedstuffs – which don't do us much good – into a food is one of the best experiences. Also working outdoors in a beautiful part of the country and being able to work for myself. My least favorite part is probably hauling manure. That task never changes and you can't put it off.
Describe how the work on the farm is shared or divided up in your family?
Kathy does the bookkeeping, occasionally helps milk and runs errands. We have a full-time herdsperson who does the morning milking. We have three part-time employees who milk, clean barns, haul manure and help with odd jobs. I do most of the feeding and cropping, and try to keep everyone moving the same direction. Son Andrew likes to help out some weekends if we are behind. Emily is busy with her career and keeping up with her kids. When they were growing up, both kids worked on the farm milking, feeding calves, doing field work and helping where needed.
How do you think your farm’s business plan will change 10 years from now?
Kathy and I are in our mid- and late-50s, and our kids are enjoying their off-farm careers. In 10 years, we will probably be transitioning out of producing milk, though we would love to be able to help a younger producer get started.
During those days when things aren’t going well, what do you do to keep a positive attitude?
Those times when everything seems to go wrong, I remind myself that we always get through them. A big reason for working for myself is knowing that success or failure rests on my shoulders.
What would you be doing if you were not a dairy farmer?
I love to fly airplanes and build and fix things. If I weren't farming, I would either be a pilot or doing some kind of construction.