It’s fitting that Donald and Cheri De Jong met in college while studying agribusiness management. Sound business principles, controlled risk-taking and entrepreneurship have been mantras of the couple since they began their dairy career in 1989.
They started out in Dublin, Texas, with 1,000 milking cows. They had plans to expand, but regulations did not support their growth intentions. So they left central Texas and over a few years expanded their operation near Dalhart to include today’s 17,000 dairy cows, producing milk for organic and conventional markets.
To be cost-effective and control quality, the De Jongs grows about 85% of their feed needs, both organic and conventional, on 50,000 acres of farmland in Texas and Colorado.
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Because of their scale, the De Jongs invest in the best technology and systems available, both for their animals and their 300 employees. They have detailed standard operating procedures, software to track every expense and audited financial statements. Core competencies are outlined for every position, and employees are able to develop career paths.
Donald is CEO for their operations and Cheri serves as CFO. Their personalities are perfect complements in developing long-term business plans. They live by strict debt ratios and only look to expand if they have long-term contracts in place.
Because of their size and varying enterprises, the De Jongs created a centralized management business called AgriVision Farm Management, which controls accounting, human resources, purchasing and inventory for all of their main operations, which include Natural Prairie Dairy, Northside Farms and Jersey Gold Dairy.
Looking back, Donald says he wishes he would have prioritized the need to understand people and talent development earlier in his career. But now, he’s making up for lost time. The De Jongs strive for transparency throughout all of their businesses because, as Donald says, the more you share, the more you win.
As for the future, Donald and Cheri have three daughters in college, and they hope they will be involved in the farm in some way in the future.
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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.