The pride you hear in Ron Brooks’ voice when he talks about his family and his farm is unmistakable. He’s quick to say he’s one of the luckiest farmers in the country. That’s because he has a successful dairy and row-crop operation that has been in his family for six generations, and he gets to work with his daughters every day.
Brooks Farms in Waupaca, Wis., was established by Ron’s great-great-grandfather back in 1855. Over its rich history, the farm has grown from the original 160 acres to 1,500 acres and 250 dairy cows producing high-quality milk. Ron joined the farm as a junior partner in the 1980s and farmed alongside his father, Dodge, until Dodge’s retirement in 2003.
Watch the AgDay story on Brooks Farms here:
Today, Ron serves as CEO of Brooks Farms. He is quick to adopt cutting-edge technology, such as digital aerial mapping, grid sampling, swatch control and robotic calf feeding. He’s also a pilot, which has both recreational and business applications. A few minutes after takeoff, Ron can observe all of his crop fields, shoot photos and be back in the office to develop a war plan for harvest with his employees.
Conservation is also a cornerstone of the operation. Brooks Farms is one of only 15 farms in Wisconsin that is part of a program that ensures all of their farmland will never be developed for commercial or residential use.
Ron has overcome many market and weather challenges in his career. But he’s also proud to say he’s lived through one of those big D’s that can lead to demise. After a lengthy divorce, Ron and his four daughters fast-tracked their succession plan to protect the operation for future generations.
That brings us to today’s bright future. Zoey, his No. 3 daughter, is back on the farm full-time as chief operating officer, handling human resources and communications responsibilities. Zoey says she values the opportunity to learn all of the ins and outs of the farm so early in her career. To give her real-world experience, Ron appointed Zoey as project manager for a new calf barn. She also brings a fresh perspective to evaluate processes, employee management and resources.
Even though Zoey is the only daughter involved in the farm today, the entire family continues to brainstorm ways for the other sisters to play a role, whether in production, marketing or value-added services.
As Ron and Zoey look to the future, their goals are to be large enough to incorporate new people and ideas, yet small enough to be nimble and grow through the synergy of vertical integration.
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Thank you to the 2016 Top Producer Seminar sponsors:
Premier Sponsors of the 2016 Top Producer Seminar include: Advance Trading, Inc., Barnstorm, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Cargill, Case IH, Channel, CropZilla, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer, ESN Smart Nitrogen, Farmers Business Network, Farmers Edge, Firestone, Granular, John Deere, K·Coe Isom, Mavrx, New Holland, SoybeanPremiums.org, Top Third Ag Marketing and Verdesian. Co-sponsors are AgroLiquid, CliftonLarsonAllen, Conservis, Gavilon and Gulke Group. Supporting sponsors are T-L Irrigation and Transition Point Business Advisors.