Award-winning Elba dairy farm carries on family tradition

Feb 18, 2015

Genesee Farm of the Year ELBA — Dairy farmers John and Dan Post followed in their father’s footsteps and the next generation followed in theirs, not only to work in agriculture but to minimize its impact on the environment. The efforts of Post Dairy Farm, of 4112 Batavia-Elba Townline Rd., were recently honored by Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District. It was named 2014 Conservation Farm of the Year by Soil & Water’s board of directors. The award continues the family tradition. Ken Post, the clan’s patriarch and father of John and Dan, was named Conservation Farmer of the Year in 1973. “My dad is still involved a little bit,” John Post said. Conservation work for which Soil & Water recognized Post Farms includes construction of a new barn with four robotic milking machines, installation of drip trenches, drain tile, diversion ditches and addition of cover to protect heavy use areas. The farm also installed a leachate pond to collect bunker silo waste water. “We’ve done a lot of stuff over the years. I don’t know if it’s anything specific,” said John Post of why the farm was honored. The Posts own 500 acres and work another 300 acres. They plant corn, alfalfa, wheat, other grains and string beans. They have about 370 milking cows. The farm employs seven people, five of them family, including Kailynn Stacy, 24, daughter of John Post. Jeff Post, the son of Dan Post, said the farm installed drain tiles on 60 acres of fields. Less moisture improves soil health, he said. “You get better water drainage and you get better crop off of it,” he said. His uncle, John Post, agreed. The fields can be planted earlier in the spring; dryer land allows for easier harvest in the fall, he said. The most significant change in recent memory at the farm was putting in robotic milking equipment in 2010. “They are less labor. We don’t have a milking parlor, the cows go to them,” Jeff Post said. The new machines decreased the amount of manual work the Posts put into milking by about 75 percent, he said. It takes about two weeks to train new cows to allow themselves to be milked three times a day by the robots. “So it’s milking all the time,” Jeff Post said. The robots also freed up farm employees to work on other aspects of the dairy operation and take more time off the job. Post Farms also reduced its electric bills by about a third when it installed a windmill that generates electricity. The 175-foot-high turbine was put in several years ago and can produce a maximum of 50 kilowatts. The windmill saves the farm about $17,000 per year. Wind energy turbines are considered by the state Department of Agriculture & Markets as a sound agricultural practice. Grants covered about two-third’s of the cost of the Posts’ wind turbine. Savings the farm realizes from the windmill will enable the Posts to pay off its initial cost after about four years. The Posts and other dairy farmers enjoyed a banner year in 2014. Milk prices averaged a record high, about $24 per hundredweight, because of a worldwide shortage. This year the price is about $16 per hundredweight. “Supply has caught up with demand,” Jeff Post said. So how does a dairy farmer handle the drastic changes in the market price? “Planning, saving in the good years,” said Kailynn Stacy. “Hopefully we break even this year,” John Post said. Post Farms is now in its sixth generation. It was started in 1900 by John and Dan’s great-grandfather, who was at one time a sharecropper. Post Farms was originally 130 acres. It grew slowly as each generation added more land. John Post said the dairy operation “keeps us busy.” Jeff Post and Kailynn Stacy were asked why they chose to work on the farm, which involves a huge commitment of time and effort. “We get a day off, just not all at the same time,” Stacy said. Jeff Post said it’s like any other family business in which someone grows up. “It’s part of our life,” he said. The Posts will be guests of honor and formally receive their Soil & Water award at the Celebrate Agriculture Dinner, March 21 at Alexander Firemen’s Recreation Hall. Article from The Batavian and taken from http://www.thedailynewsonline.com/lifestyles/article_d2dc075a-b666-11e4-9e3b-13e114bdb380.html