The Schlangen Family
Steve Schlangen is a member of the NMPF Board of Directors and chairman of Associated Milk Producers Inc. He and his wife Cheryl have four children: Krista, husband Andy and son Ethan; Jenna and fiancé Casey; and Matthew and Michael. They milk 65 Holsteins with a Lely robotic milker on their farm near Albany in central Minnesota. They raise all the feed for their cows and replacement heifers on their own 220 acres.
Steve started milking on his own in 1986 when he bought a herd of 28 cows, rented a vacant barn and bought all his feed. Steve and Cheryl were married in 1989, and they purchased the farm soon after. In 1992, they built a free stall barn and milking parlor, where they milked until adding a robotic milker in 2010.
What do you like the most – and the least – about working as a dairy farmer?
A dairy farm is a great place to raise a family and teach your kids a lot about life, including how to work and how to be responsible. You can also make a decent living most of the time, but it’s the times when prices are low that it can get very tough.
Describe how the work on the farm is shared or divided up in your family?
Our kids are all gone from home, so Cheryl and I do chores together most of the time.
How do you think your farm’s business plan will change 10 years from now?
Our plan is changing as we speak. We are bringing in someone to help work with us on a consistent basis so I can keep the farm running efficiently while carrying out my duties as AMPI board chairman. Eventually. I’d like to work a young person in to take over so we can retire.
During those days when things aren’t going well, what do you do to keep a positive attitude?
Many times, when things aren’t going well, I try to get something done that I’ve been putting off, which can be rewarding. I also look back on where we started and what we all went through to get where we are.
What would you be doing if you were not a dairy farmer?
Thirty years ago, I would have said I’d be doing construction, but now, after being involved in the dairy industry beyond the farm, I would probably want to do something to make things better for the dairy industry in one way or another.