Two Farm Bureau members visited Dave Daniels’ farm in the early 1980s on a membership drive and convinced him to join. He has proven to be an asset to the organization ever since. Today, Dave represents the eight southeastern counties that make up ‘District 1’ on the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Board of Directors.
Dave grew up on his family’s dairy farm near Union Grove in Kenosha County. His grandfather, Max, originally purchased the dairy in 1933 and his parents, Carl and Shirley, took over in 1956. The oldest of six siblings, Dave came home to farm with his father after graduating with a dairy science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Soon after, Dave married Kim and they had their two children: Tara and Maxx.
Back in 1933 Grandpa Max milked 24 head and owned 80 acres. Today Dave milks 520 head and owns 275 acres.
In addition to numerous expansions of cattle and acreage, Dave also opted to rename and reorganize the operation in the 1990s. That change resulted from an idea he shared with friends Gene Weis and Myron Daniels (not related). Each had fathers who were retiring from dairying. Each wanted to continue farming but did not want to be tied to their farms, and each shared concerns over what might happen to their farms when they retired someday. In 1997 they merged and formed a partnership called Mighty Grand Dairy (which borrows an initial from each of their names) where each owns equal shares of a farm and focuses on their area of expertise. Gene heads up the crop work and heifers on his home farm, Myron is in charge of the repair work and heifers on his home farm, and Dave oversees the milking and employee relations.
Dave enjoys the partnership because of the shared work load, the specialization of the farm, and the ability to get off the farm for vacations and meetings. He loves farming because he is an owner in the operation and gets to be involved in the decision making that ultimately provides a living for his family.
He credits his participation in the Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program (now called Leadership Wisconsin) with the motivation to get involved in areas he feels are important. He is active in his local Catholic church, serves on the Kenosha County Land and Water Resource Committee, represents the WFBF’s Board of Directors on the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and was recently appointed to the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation Board. After years of involvement in Morning Glory’s young farmer program, he is now a delegate for Foremost Farms. He encourages Farm Bureau members to “look for opportunities to expand not only your farming venture, but to expand other avenues of your life.”
Thankfully he also plans to be involved in Farm Bureau for years to come.
“We are the organization that speaks out for all sides of agriculture, whether it be small or large, beef, corn or other commodities, we represent them all,” Daniels said.
Story by Sheri Sutton. Original version appeared in the October/November 2010 issue of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Route.