Heartland Cooperative Services
101 Parkside Dr. Dorchester, WI 54425
715-654-5134 or 1-800-521-2021
AGRICULTURE - INDUSTRY - RURAL LIVING
Steve Schafer: Swallow Hollow Dairy
Heartland Cooperative is honored to do business with some of the best, growers in the state. Through our new web page, “Featured Farmers” you will learn about our farmers, their operations and their questions and concerns about the industry and about Heartland Cooperative Services.
We want our farmers to have a voice, to ask questions and share opinions so we as a cooperative can actively respond to the farmers concerns.
Our first Featured Farmers are Steve and Kelly Schafer of Swallow Hollow Dairy.
Steve and Kelly plus Dale (Steve’s father), and one employee run the operation. They milk roughly 50 cows and farm 300 acres. In addition to running the farm Steve has been selling Dekalb since 1980 as well as doing custom harvesting.
When asked about how long Steve has been in agriculture he chuckled and said, “Birth”. Steve grew up on the same dairy farm that he farms today.
Back in 1976 Dale Schafer, Steve’s father, came to Wisconsin from Illinois to farm. Dale still plays an active role in the farm at age 88. He feeds the cows every day and does some field work. Steve was a participant of 4-H and FFA growing up and now is a delegate for Foremost Farms.
We asked Steve how Heartland Cooperative Services met his needs in 2018. He responded by saying, “This year the spraying was very timely, and they did a good job of not driving on my rows”.
He also mentioned that once he got his hands on the 5 shank for anhydrous that it was filled to what he needed and was ready to go when he got there to pick it up. He appreciated that the lines were short when he needed fertilizer and that his needs for his crop were met.
Wondering what off-the-farm activities Steve is involved in we learned that he loves going to First Baptist Church in Medford as well as spending time with family. Steve has had the honor of traveling to the Ukraine for mission trips the past couple years to teach English to anybody willing to learn. He loves building relationships and keeping in contact with the people he meets in the Ukraine.
We asked Steve to share any advice he would have for the next generation of farmers. “Farming is full time. It is not a 9 to 5 job” he said, adding, “You have to find your niche and watch your costs. It’s rewarding to see your crops grow but you have to put the work in”.
Steve had a thoughtful question and answer session with Gery Steimetz, Heartland Cooperatives Agronomy Division Manager.
1.Steve: How are you staying up to date with equipment?
Gery: We are in constant communication with our equipment suppliers as well as listening to other equipment users to see what is new and improved. Also, reading up on the latest things that are being manufactured to see where the industry is headed. We also try to make sound financial decisions as to when we upgrade equipment to keep down time to a minimum.
2.Steve: How are you bringing in young talent that will stick around?
We look at recruiting local people who have ties to the area. We look at the colleges, technical schools and high schools to determine who is attending these schools for a future in an Ag related field. We are communicating with instructors to help identify and recruit these students for possible internships and or employment. We also will be becoming more involved with Ag groups such as 4-H and FFA to help young people understand who we are and what we do. We attend area Agriculture and non-Agriculture related events to promote Heartland Cooperative as an employment opportunity.
Thank you for reading about one of our farmers and feel free to get in contact with any of our locations about any questions you might have.
We want to hear your voice and thank you Steve for your business this year.
3.Steve: Why did you run out of dry fertilizer?
Gery: We did not actually run out of fertilizer, we had to strategically place inventory as to provide as much product in a timely manner as possible to our customers. The reason was a combination of things that were beyond our control all related to logistics. The early spring rains and snow in some areas caused a rise of water on the Mississippi River causing a major slowdown in barge freight being able to move north. This caused the terminals in Winona and the Twin Cities to either run out of product or limit the amount we were able to pick up. This made the lines longer at terminal that may have had product thus reducing the loads that a truck could haul each day. The Department of Transportation has also required that trucks use electronic logs which means that when a truck is in line they are considered on duty and can only drive a certain number of hours each day. Because of these changes any delays meant a trucker can only haul one load per day when previously they were able to haul two. We had to, at times when trucks were at a premium, find more trucks to take care of our needs. We will continue to work on ways to improve logistics as we move forward.