Farmer Focus

The Gladden family

Hometown: Palo Verde, Arizona

Clint and Brooke Gladden, along with Clint’s older brother Josh Gladden and wife Heidi, are a 4th generation Arizona dairy farm located in Palo Verde, AZ, about 50 minutes west of Phoenix. They work with his father and mother, Dan and Sheri Gladden. Clint’s grandfather “retired” a few years ago. They milk 4,000 cows in two facilities and farm 2,500 acres feeding in to the dairy. Their current main facility, built in 1998, milks 3,000 cows in a 36×36 parallel parlor with a mixed herd of Holsteins, Jerseys, and Hojo crosses. Their other facility milks 1,000 cows in a 18×18 parallel parlor with a mixed herd also. They milk 2x daily, and are members of United Dairymen of Arizona.

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

Our favorite part has to be working with the cattle and the dirt. It’s what gets us up in the morning. We love being caretakers of the land and cattle. It’s extremely satisfying to provide the highest quality product possible to people across Arizona, and the world. Working with family on a daily basis to ensure the next generation has the same opportunity is also one of the best parts. There’s something special about getting to experience the same types of highs and lows prior generations did in the same industry.

The least favorite part has to be enduring the struggles of the markets that we’ve been dealing with. It’s tough work already, but when you aren’t making money it makes it that much tougher. My wife would probably say her least favorite part is last minute changes or cancelling of plans outside of the farm due to unexpected issues coming up.

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

The work is currently divided with my brother Josh managing the dairy, and I manage the farm. Our father Danny manages the both of us and the overall operation. We all work together to ensure we’re producing the best quality product possible. My wife Brooke and mother Sheri handle the office work.

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

I think the biggest thing will be adapting to robotics and further automation. I’m excited to see where the technology will go. We’ll also have to continue trying to find ways to diversify our operation to make money other ways during the difficult times.

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

Running into my grandpa on the place can always help, he always seems to have a smile on his face regardless of circumstances. He’s a true believer in “tough times don’t last, tough people do.” Thinking of all that he and my dad have been through, but are still here going strong, is a good way to stay grounded. My go-to moment has to be making time to catch a quiet sunrise or sunset over the farm and cows. The stillness and peace of those times is a good way to reset and appreciate the life we are fortunate to live.

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

I think I probably would pursue a career in politics lobbying for agriculture. Ag is something that’s in our blood and I’d love to advocate for the same kind of people across the country.

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