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Producing Fresh, Local Milk: The Challenges for Small-scale Dairy Farmers

Famous for his farm’s fresh, tasty milk, Tim Iwig also has an interesting perspective on small-scale dairy farming. Here’s what you need to know about what it takes to make quality local dairy products.

| October 13, 2009

  • Iwig Family Dairy
    For northeast Kansas and beyond, Iwig Family Dairy produces some of the best fresh, local milk you’ll ever taste — including chocolate milk. Here, Courtney Iwig, daughter of the farm’s owner Tim Iwig, gains hands-on knowledge of the work involved in running a milk production and bottling business.

  • Iwig Family Dairy

It’s hard to put a price on the value of fresh, local, hormone- and antibiotic-free milk that actually tastes like milk. When you know local dairy farmers who put their hearts and souls into their businesses and their communities, it’s heartbreaking to watch the current economic situation threaten their livelihoods.

We recently caught up with longtime dairy farmer Tim Iwig of Iwig Family Dairy in Tecumseh, Kan., and picked his brain on what it’s like to produce and sell fresh, local milk at a time that’s been particularly hard on dairy farmers.

Tell us about your dairy, and how you got started.

I always wanted to milk cows. This dairy has been run by my family since 1910, and I watched my dad operate it with his two brothers until 1972. I wanted my own dairy business, but I was only 12 years old, so I practiced with dairy cows through the 4-H program.

I began my milk production business in 1983 and expanded to a bottling and retail service in 2005. My wife, Laurel, and I have been producing high-quality bottled milk, cream, butter, ice cream and ground beef to our community ever since.

Because it’s local, it’s fresher. Plus, we bottle our milk in glass — plastic containers contain unwanted chemicals that end up in the milk, and they make the milk taste like plastic. Glass also keeps the milk colder and cuts down on waste, because we wash and reuse the bottles.

Concetta Hurlbert
1/7/2010 9:53:36 AM

Kudos to the Iwig Family Dairy for all of its hard work and passionate dedication to providing healthy, fresh milk to its customers. I live in central CT, and am fortunate to have Deerfield Farm within two miles of my home. The products can't be beat, and it's wonderful to try my hand making cheese and butter with a local product. I'd encourage folks out there to seek out their local dairy farms and patronize them!

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