Congratulations to our 2017 SQMI Milk Quality Award recipients!

This award recognizes dairy producers from FL, GA, KY, MS, TN, and VA who have successfully placed high priority on producing milk of the highest quality.

From left to right: Grady and Rhonda Ladner (MS), Daniel Payne (GA), Travis Larsen (FL), Lynn & Doug Brown (VA), Connie & Keith Long (KY), and John Harrison (TN)





The winner of the Florida Award is Larson Dairy, Barn 8 in Okeechobee, FL managed and co-owned by Travis Larson. His grandfather, Red Larson, began dairying in 1947 in South Florida. He moved the dairy north to Okeechobee in the 1960s. The Larson families own and manage 6 dairies in the Okeechobee area. Larson Dairy Barn 8 is the newest facility in their operation; utilizing direct load and several automations in the parlor. Larson Dairy Barn 8 milks 2500 cows with a rolling herd average of close to 27,000 pounds. Their average somatic cell count was 227,000 per ml for the preceding year. Larson Dairy Barn 8 has provided tours and educational opportunities for international visitors, culinary groups, students, business leaders, and the local community.



The winner of the Georgia Award is the Berry College Dairy in Rome managed by Daniel Payne. The Berry Dairy is a small scale, student-run operation milking 30 Jersey cows with a rolling herd average of 17,000 lbs of milk. The dairy site is 50 acres with a 4-stall herringbone parlor and a free-stall barn on Berry’s campus. The Jersey herd consists of 40 mature cows and 35 heifers. Established in 1905, the Berry Dairy continues to maintain a registered Jersey herd while providing college students of different capacities the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in all aspects of a dairy operation. Their average somatic cell count for the year preceding this award was 97,000 cells per mL.



The winner of the Kentucky Award is Long’s Dairy owned by Keith & Connie Long, and established in 1973. The Longs are currently milking 425 Holsteins in a double 16 parallel parlor. The housing is sand bedded free stalls. Their current rolling herd average is 26,292 pounds, and average somatic cell count was 159,000 per ml for the year proceeding this award.



The winner of the Mississippi Award is Heritage Dairy Farm in Holly Springs, MS.  Heritage Dairy Farm is owned by Grandy Ladner and Darren McGee, and has 15 dedicated employees.  Their 600 Holsteins produce over 15 million lbs. of milk annually with a current somatic cell count average of 227,000.  The farm includes almost 300 acres of land and 400 acres of contracted cropland to support forage production and young stock.  Both native Mississippians and graduates of Mississippi State University, Grandy and Darren established Heritage Dairy Farm in 1999 with the purchase of 382 lactating cows.  With current production of over 27,000 lbs of milk per cow per year, and almost 1100 adult and replacement stock, it is the largest and highest producing dairy farm in the state.



The winner of the Tennessee Award is Sweetwater Valley Farm in Philadelphia, TN owned by John and Celia Harrison. The Harrisons milk a herd of 1500 mature Holsteins. The daily operations of the farm are the primary responsibility of their herd manager, Steve Cornett and his son Kevin. Sweetwater Valley Farm has two separate locations, and the somatic cell count at each of these locations for the year preceding this award was 173,000 cells per ml.  John, a graduate of Agricultural Economics at UT and his wife Celia, started the processing arm of Sweetwater Valley Farm in 1998, where they process their own milk and have preserved the fine art of making cheese in the traditional farmstead manner. Their award-winning cheddar cheese can be found in grocery stores and online. They also understand the importance of educating the community regarding the dairy industry and offer tours throughout the spring and summer.



The winner of the Virginia Award is Twin Oaks Dairy Farm that has always been a family run farm in Franklin Co. Virginia.  It’s now owned and run by Doug and Lynn Brown.  They started dairying in 1981, and are currently milking 150 Holsteins with a rolling herd average of around 25,000 lbs of milk.  All forage is grown on the 400 acre farm with 200 acres rented to support steers, beef cows, and a small grain operation.  The average somatic cell count for the previous year for the Browns was 119,000.