Farmer Focus

The Vander Dussen Family

Hometown: Clovis, New Mexico

Jonathan Vander Dussen is a farmer member of Select Milk Producers and current NMPF board member. He lends a hand on his family’s three different farm operations, which are located in Clovis, New Mexico, and milk a total of 10,000 Holsteins. The work is divided up within the family: Jonathan, his parents Randy and Jenise, and his brothers: Sybrand, Daniel, Bryan and Cody.

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

Dairy farming allows a person to experience a variety of roles and responsibilities in business. Dairying allows you to work outside with animals and be an entrepreneur. On the same day, I can be concerned about both interest rates and ruminant nutrition.

There are numerous aspects of agricultural business that present challenges within the dairy industry. No matter the day, there is always something that is negatively affecting your operation. One day I could be affected by a geopolitical problem like trade tariffs; the next day it could be something as simple as bad feed or weather affecting the cows.

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

Like many farms in the United States, our farm is family owned and operated. I currently partner with my father and several of my brothers. Brothers Sybrand, Daniel and Cody are all involved, managing the herdsmen and day-to-day operations on each of our three farms; Bryan is in charge of maintenance. I manage all the feed and farm operations, as well as the hedging and marketing to manage our risk. My father oversees the entire business.

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

The dairy industry will continue to be a difficult industry. Dairy farmers will have to actively stay on the brink of new ideas and technology. Robotic machinery will quickly become standard with new facilities, allowing farmers to be more efficient. Farmers who are innovative, efficient and well-managed will be the future of the industry.

With regards to my family’s farm, our plan is to grow the operation to become more vertically integrated and efficient.

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

To keep a positive attitude, I always look to the future. Typically, hard times in the dairy industry also bring good times. I also think about my favorite time of day on the dairy: when the sun is first coming up in the morning, all the cows are eating, and everything is peaceful.

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

I often think about what I would do if I weren’t a dairy farmer, and I can never think of a good answer. I really enjoy what I do and cannot think of anything that would be a more satisfying profession. However, someday, I always thought it would be fun to own and manage a bar in the Caribbean.

Meet More of our Members: