Keeping an open line of communication and friendship is key for farmers to start a positive relationship with their neighbors. Dave and Barb, Matthew and Brooke, and Derek and Heidi Van De Hey, owners of New Horizons Dairy in De Pere, find a lot of value by connecting with their neighbors.
The farm was established in 1899 and it has grown with the family. They built the parlor in 1996 and have continued to grow to where they are today. As New Horizons Dairy moves to the next generation, the family will continue to connect with their neighbors.
DBA: What are you most proud of on your farm?
New Horizons: To be able to watch our children and grandchildren grow up learning responsibility and knowledge at a young age.
DBA: How have you connected with your neighbors?
New Horizons: We connect with our neighbors by visiting them at Christmas time. We bring them each a card, cheese and car wash tokens. Also, we bring the payloader around to clean neighbors’ driveways during the wintertime. It is a great way to stay in touch throughout the year.
DBA: What benefits have you seen connecting with your neighbors?
New Horizons: We have seen several benefits from being proactive with our neighbors. When we first applied for a CAFO permit, several neighbors had questions. After inviting them over to talk and even take a tour, they were able to see that we are truly a family farm just looking to expand our passions and goals.
DBA: What advice would you offer other farmers wanting to do the same?
New Horizons: We would recommend every farmer visit with their neighbors. By having an open line of communication and friendship, you are able to conduct business more smoothly.
DBA: How do you engage the non-farming public about dairy farming?
New Horizons: A great way to educate the non-farming public is to host an ice cream social or county Breakfast on the Farm. This shows the public all aspects of the business.
DBA: If you were talking to people who aren’t connected to agriculture, what would you tell them about the dairy community?
New Horizons: People need to realize all of our food comes from some type of farm and we truly need each other to survive.
DBA: What does the future hold for New Horizons Dairy?
New Horizons: Technology is con-stantly changing and we need to adapt to things that help conserve and protect agriculture. For example, in the past 13 years, we have adapted to double cropping, no-till planting and cover crops to reduce emissions and protect the soil and water.