Farmer Focus

The Kurtz family

Hometown: Elverson, Pennsylvania

Jared & Marla Kurtz have three children: Jase (5), Selah (3) and Weston (1). They farm with Jared’s parents, Tim and Deborah Kurtz, in Elverson, Pennsylvania, 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia, and are members of Land O Lakes. The Kurtz’s milk 300 Holsteins in two different barns. 60 cows are milked in a tie stall barn and 220 cows are milked by 4 Lely A4 Robots in a newer freestall barn. They raise all of thier own replacement heifers and grow most of their own forages, double cropping with corn and small grains, using 100% no-till.

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

The thing I like the most is being able to work with my dad (occasionally my grandfather & one day my kids) on the same land that has been owned by our family for 100 years. Not many people have an opportunity to do something like that anymore, it is something that I never take for granted. I also really enjoy the continual challenge to improve our farm’s performance. Whether it be with crops or cows, there is always room for improvements. Being able to be involved in the decision making process is extremely rewarding for me, it fuels the competitive nature inside of me.

Right now the thing that I like the least about being a dairy farmer is the financial pressure that we have been facing as dairy farmers. A day doesn’t go by without feeling the weight and severity of our current environment.

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

Right now my dad, Tim, and I are the only family members involved in the farm work. We work pretty closely together on the day-to-day management, financial planning, crop work and everything else. Every morning he handles the chores at our robot barn and I take care of the milking at our tie stall barn. Throughout the rest of the day we divide up everything else that needs to be done and work at it together, along with the rest of our employees. My wife and my mother both work part-time off of the farm.

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

I think that our business plan in 10 years will have more diversification in it. Our farm is located not far from a couple large suburban areas which can make operating a dairy farm challenging at times. However, people are becoming more and more interested in knowing where their food comes from and want to have access to the story of what is going on at our farms. Farmers have a great opportunity to engage with consumers who are unaware of how food is grown and produced today.

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

Two things: my faith in Jesus Christ and my family. There are definitely days when I am envious of a “normal job” with a 40 hour work week. Difficult weather, sick cows, little sleep and low milk prices can definitely seem overwhelming at times. But being able to walk through this with the promises of the Lord as a steward of His land, helps to keep it all in perspective. But being able to do this all alongside my family, and see the excitement from my kids every time they get to be on the farm, helps push me through and keep my spirits up.

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

Definitely not an office job or anything behind a desk – I tried that before and it didn’t work out. Most likely something in agriculture.

Meet More of our Members: