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Dairy receives Iowa Venture Award

By Staff | Dec 18, 2015

PATRICK AND NANCY JONES, owners of Jones Family Dairy, near Spencer, go over cow health records. They received the Iowa Venture Award earlier this month, an award that recognizes the economic impact businesses make on their local communities. The award was given at the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives’ annual meeting in West Des Moines.

SPENCER – Jones Family Dairy was one of eight Iowa companies honored with the Iowa Venture Award in West Des Moines earlier this month.

The award was given by the Iowa Area Development Group, on behalf of Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives, municipal utilities and independent telecommunication companies.

The dairy, located near Spencer, was nominated for the award by Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative.

“Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative has been a partner in our growth,” said Patrick Jones. “When we needed more barns or a larger transformer, they said, ‘yes.’ (Growing the business) meant more revenue in the community, and that’s the focus of this award.”

A four-generation operation, the dairy began as an 80-head cow herd in 1972, with eight children growing up to become major players in the family business.

The business expanded and the dairy began milking at its new location just up the road from their farm in 1997, with 350 cows.

That number doubled in 2006 when it grew to 700 head.

The latest expansion came in 2014 with the addition of a young stock barn to accommodate 500 head of replacement heifers from five to 18 months old.

“We had young stock in several locations, and this expansion upgraded (the operation and) brought them all together in one location,” said Jones.

That same year they also put up a new dairy barn and added 400 head of cows, bringing their total number of milking cows to 1,100.

Today, Jones Family Dairy milks three times daily and employs 20 people.

The dairy produces 6,500 gallons of milk per day and sells 2.4 million gallons of milk each year, which is made into cheese.

Local impact

“We didn’t think about (the possible economic impact) all that time-we were just doing our thing,” said Jones. “But with our 20 employees, there are 13 of their children in the local schools. That’s a plus for keeping our schools going.”

Jones said they began as a mom-and-pop kind of business, but as their children grew, they understood there were limited opportunities for them to return to the farm unless the business expanded.

And as their children got older and more involved in school activities, the Joneses said they wanted to be in the stands watching them, instead of being tied to the milking schedule and work schedule morning and night, every day of the week.

Patrick and Nancy Jones agreed it was due to the hard work of their children that the business was able to expand, giving them an opportunity to hire employees to help relieve them from having such a demanding work schedule.

“Any one of them can pour concrete and feed calves and not do it for their profession,” said Nancy Jones. “They developed some great skills and work ethics. I can’t say enough about family.”

Jones said it was nice to be recognized for their hard work and economic growth.

“I don’t think at first we realized the significance of it, but it makes us feel very proud,” she said. “It makes you step back and look at yourself (and your contribution to community growth) more.”

Patrick Jones said the dairy industry is a labor- and capital-intense ag business.

“It’s really nice when you see the next generation do this,” he said. “When your son comes up to you and asks what you’re doing today, and I say I have a little time, and he gives me a list of things to do … it doesn’t get any better than that.”

The 2015 Outstanding Business of the Year Iowa Venture Award was presented to Hy-Line North America, headquartered in West Des Moines, the largest-selling egg layer in America.

It sells to more than 120 countries worldwide.

Awards were distributed at a luncheon held in conjunction with the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives’ annual meeting.

The IADG has presented the Iowa Venture Awards for the past 28 years to individuals, as well as large and small organizations, in recognition of significant contributions to Iowa’s economy through entrepreneurial leadership, innovation and the creation of job opportunities.

Other businesses receiving the award included American Colloid Co., of Shell Rock; Country View Dairy, of Hawkeye; Heartland Co-op, of Fairfield; North Ida Builders LLC and North Ida Investments LLC, both of Holstein; Precision Tank & Equipment Co., of Humboldt; and The Good Eggs LLC, of Iowa Falls.

“IADG, on behalf of our sponsors, is proud to recognize these outstanding companies,” said Rand Fisher, president of IADG. “Their demonstrated innovation, vision, courage, social responsibility and contribution have made an impressive impact on their communities, regions and the state of Iowa.”

Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds was on hand to help present the Iowa Venture Awards.


Iowa benefits from dairies

The latest information from Iowa State University shows the economic output effect of one dairy cow is set at $23,445 in Iowa through:

A). Direct (economic impacts generated directly by the dairy industry).

B). Indirect (economic impacts generated by purchases of goods and services by the industry in other sectors, such as logistics, utilities, transportation and financial services).

C). Induced commerce (impact of spending by employees on goods and services outside the industry such as grocery stores, education and other retail).

Those dollars involve employment opportunities, labor and value-added products.

That same information shows that each cow generates the equivalent of .1 full time job created throughout the entire dairy production and processing sectors, and that more than 22,000 jobs are supported by activities that are induced by a strong dairy presence.

Some of the opportunities created by the dairy industry include transportation, financial services, wholesale and retail trade businesses including restaurants, repair shops and equipment dealers.

The raw products create manufacturing and processing opportunities, with the number of jobs supported by the dairy industry being more than 17,000 directly related to dairy production processing, with an additional 5,000 jobs induced through the economic stimulus created by those sectors.

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