(JANUARY 16, 2019) – Foster Brothers Farms, a 2,000-acre dairy operation outside of Middlebury, VT, has been named the 2019 Innovative Dairy Farmers of the Year, sponsored by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and Dairy Herd Management magazine.
The operation’s president, Robert Foster, is a longtime advocate for sustainable farming, having joined in 2006 the founding steering committee of 25x’25, the renewable energy platform under Solutions from the Land. He remains a senior advisor to the group.
“Bob was one of the original 25x’25 visionary leaders who saw an opportunity for agriculture to be recognized not for just producing food, feed and fiber, but also for clean energy and a host of related high value, ecosystem services,” said the group’s chairman, Bart Ruth. “We are thrilled to see Bob’s leadership and work recognized nationally. It’s a well-deserved honor.”
Foster Brothers Farms, a fifth-generation dairy operation founded in 1941, was cited by IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes for its “use of technology, innovation and business partnerships to build and maintain a modern, progressive dairy operation.
“Robert Foster,” Dykes said, “has contributed his valuable leadership over the years to our dairy industry, and he and his family have built a dairy operation that is truly innovative. IDFA is honored to recognize Foster Brothers Farms as the 2019 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year.”
In Dairy Herd Management magazine’s announcement of the award, Foster, who partners with a number of family members to operate the farm, said the award was humbling. But he said his family’s primary goals are still to “maintain profitability, be good environmental stewards, produce world-class products and operate our farm for the benefit of our family, employees and community for several generations to come.”
In the early 1980s, the Fosters were among the first dairy farms in the nation to install and operate a methane digester, powering their own operation and selling excess power to a local utility. In 1992, the Fosters formed Vermont Natural Ag Products Inc. (VNAP), a company that produces some two dozen compost soil products they market to commercial, landscape and home users around the Northeast.
Foster, who was inducted into the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame last year, has been on the leading edge of dairy diversification since the early 1980s. He has devoted his life to farming and supporting other farmers through co-op work and other advocacy platforms. He coined the term “Cow Power” when he saw the opportunity to source clean-burning, environmentally safe, abundant energy.
For additional information, contact SfL President Ernie Shea at 410-952-0123 or Eshea@SfLDialogue.net.
Solutions from the Land (SfL) is a not-for-profit corporation focused on land-based solutions to global challenges. SfL’s mission is to identify and facilitate the implementation of policies, practices and projects at a landscape scale that will result in land being sustainably managed to produce food, feed, fiber and energy while protecting and improving critical environmental resources and delivering high value solutions to combat climate change. For more on Solutions from the Land, click HERE.