Farmer Focus

The Campbell Family

Hometown: Hardee County, Florida

Courtney and her husband Dustin are part of the 2019 YC Advisory Council and members of Southeast Milk. They farm in central Florida, approximately 80 miles south of Disney World. They milk a total of 2,000 Holstein cows twice a day at three farms, all located in Hardee County: 1,200 cows at Zolfo Springs Dairy, 350 at Wauchula Dairy, and 450 cows at Lemon Grove Dairy. The three sites use rotational grazing, which helps manage costs. It also allows for a more simplistic management style that permits them to focus on what matters most: their cows and making milk.

What do you like the most – and the least – about working as a dairy farmer?

One word: Family. They’re amazing! Truly, they are my most trusted advisors, an invaluable source of knowledge and experience, and the most supportive and understanding coworkers.   Family businesses can be difficult to manage because our personal and professional relationships overlap. But ultimately, there is no one else I’d rather work with every day!

Describe how the work on the farm is shared or divided up in your family?

I am business partners with my parents, Joe and Marlene Nickerson, and brother Logan. My dad and brother co-manage the cows and daily operations between the farms. I manage the office responsibilities like accounting, employee training, promotion, etc. My mom assists with the office duties when the grandbabies aren’t with her.

How do you think your farm’s business plan will change 10 years from now?

Our business plan must adapt to market changes and consumer demands to be successful long term. Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in transparency and traceability with their food, and I am working with a group of local farmers on an initiative called Free Range 365. We are focused on providing a value added product that includes these qualities.

During those days when things aren’t going well, what do you do to keep a positive attitude?

It has been exceptionally difficult to keep a positive attitude over the past year, but honestly, I just pray and talk to other dairy farmers. We are a very resilient group of people and I believe there is tremendous value in learning from each other – sharing what works and what doesn’t.

What would you be doing if you were not a dairy farmer?

Definitely something in agriculture! I formerly worked in sales and I can say with absolute confidence that it will NOT be sales.

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