Farmer Focus

The Schwoeppe Family

Hometown: Southwest Indiana

Sam Schwoeppe owns Schwoeppe Dairy LLC, a member of Prairie Farms cooperative, alongside her husband Darren and two sons Wyatt and Ethan in the southwest area of Indiana. They milk around 95 Holsteins with a few Brown Swiss cows. Sam is currently pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership and has a deep passion for agricultural sustainability. She was also a member of the 2014 NMPF Young Cooperator Advisory Council.

What do you like the most – and the least – about working as a dairy farmer?
The thing I like the most about dairy farming is the people who are involved in the industry. The dairy community is full of interesting people who are passionate about their work.

Describe how the work on the farm is shared or divided up in your family?
My sons have joined the farming operation and they do field work, maintenance, some milking and other herdsman chores. My husband is the farm manager and he is in charge of milking, which his mother also helps with. I work off the farm, feed the nursery calves, do the bookwork and some milking.

How do you think your farm’s business plan will change 10 years from now?
My sons will be in managerial positions. We plan to build some new facilities and update equipment.

During those days when things aren’t going well, what do you do to keep a positive attitude?
I focus on the future and think “this too shall pass.” I am not one to stay negative and try to think of positive opportunities that could come about in the future. We always have new calves being born, so we focus on the genetics of our cows. A new baby is so exciting because it is the tangible result of a decision made nine months before. In dairy farming, you must be so patient; you make a mating decision, wait nine months for the calf to be born, then two years to see how she turns out after she calves, then another year to see how she performs. Good things come in time, you just have to be patient and wait for it to arrive.

What would you be doing if you were not a dairy farmer?
I love to substitute teach and share the story of agriculture! When you are working with young people and you see the light come on inside them when they gain understanding of a new idea, it is one of the most fabulous things on Earth! If I were not a dairy farmer, I would definitely be a teacher in some form or another.

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