My background is marketing and project management. A lot of which has come in handy on the farm. Whether it is a new construction project or writing and implementing a new protocol, organization, getting the right people involved and communication are key!
Tell us about your dairy farm
Our farm was started in 1972 by father-in-law and mother-in-law, Mike and Sue Fischer with eight cows. Growth has been a constant. We went from a tie-stall barn to a retro-fitted double-eight parlor, to the new double-20 parallel parlor in 2015. We are currently milking approximately 915 cows and our end goal will be around 1,000. Our cows maintain a rolling herd average of 32,651 pounds of milk, a 4.25 percent butterfat and a 3.25 percent protein, all while averaging a somatic cell count below 85,000 each month. The facilities have been updated to match the growth of our herd, with a focus on efficiency. We recently added a tunnel-ventilated barn to complement the existing naturally ventilated barn that now both house milking cows. A new heifer facility was constructed in 2012 and expanded in 2015 in preparation for the latest milking herd growth in 2016.
We built a new calf barn in 2017 and a new young-stock heifer facility was built in 2018. My husband Jon and I are now business partners with his parents. Jon has been on the dairy since high school; I started full-time on the farm five years ago to be more available for our two daughters.
What is your role at the farm?
I manage the calf barn and oversee the protocols and workflow with the cows and employees. I work closely with our two herds persons to ensure that protocols and workflows are being executed and are working properly.
What led to you attending the “Dairy Speaks” fly-in event with Edge this year?
I honestly did it to step outside of my comfort zone and learn more about what is impacting the dairy community. I believe it is important to advocate and be involved - this was a great opportunity to that.
What was your favorite part about going to Washington, D.C.
Meeting the staffers of various politicians. They were very sincere and truly cared to hear our stories and what is important to us. They rely on us to tell our stories and to share what we are experiencing firsthand. This is how they know what to do, as well as who it will impact and/or benefit.
I was surprised by how little time you get with staffers and legislators. When you are in a meeting, you need to make sure you tell your story and tell it well!
What did you learn that will impact your role at Fischer Clark Dairy?
My focus was regulation and immigrant workforce - so I learned the importance of lobbying for the correct kind of work visa that is easy to obtain and does not exclude dairy farmers (many of the current visas are for seasonal workers). It also needs to be specific for dairy farming or year-round agriculture.
What advice do you have for other Edge members who may be “on the fence” about lobbying in D.C.? Do farmer voices make a difference to lawmakers?
Attending the Dairy Speaks fly-in allowed me to see what really happens when you lobby. Things move at a swift pace! It also showed me that we need to share our stories and realities. D.C. is world away from the cornfields and barns of farming - so the more we can paint the picture and realities of what we are experiencing, the more they can help to make the change that really works. If you go, pick one or two topics that you know first-hand. Something that would benefit or impact your farm and study and research more about it. The more comfortable you can be sharing your story and answering their questions, the more trust and confidence they will have in you to realize this is an important issue.