Member Spotlight: Mark (and Pat) Towns
How long has your farm been in operation?
Our farm celebrated it’s sesquicentennial in 2001, so we have been continually farming for 168 years. I started full-time with the farm in 1977 after 2 years of college. I left in 1991 to work for the Holstein Association as a classifier, then worked for Landmark Genetics/Alta Genetics and Network Genetics as a sire analyst. I returned to the farm in 1999 when we expanded to our present facility.
Tell us about your farm. How many animals do you care for or how many crops do you farm?
I farm with my 2 brothers, Steve & Scott. We have 520 milk cows and farm just under 500 acres of corn for silage and alfalfa. Our total head of cattle is some under 1,000.
What are your most memorable moments as a farmer?
My most memorable moments include the times when neighboring farmers have come together under challenging circumstances to help one another. There probably isn’t another community like farmers who already work long, hard hours, and are willing to sacrifice for a neighbor that is in trouble.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of keeping up with an industry that is continually and rapidly changing. It is challenging to constantly be in a mode of change and adjustment. It’s not that we have taken advantage of all the innovations that are out there, but we are dairying in a different way than we were even 5 to 10 years ago.
How has agriculture improved since you first started?
Agriculture production has increased phenomenally over the years, the cows produce so much more milk and the land produces so much more crops.
How has your partnership with Landmark impacted your business over the years?
The Landmark people that we have partnered with over the years listen, are concerned, and give us their best advice. They see a lot of operations and are able to share what they see is working. That is not something I could get on my own and I value their advice.
What would you like people to know about your farm that people may not know?
We are dabbling in some crossbreds, using a little Jersey semen on some hard breeders and have started breeding some of our lower end cows to beef, in order to reduce our heifer inventory.