CSIF Helps Farmers Tell Ag’s Story

07-02-2024 in Article

New Day Dairy near Clarksville in Butler County is unique in many ways.


In addition to its state-of-the-art robotic milking operation, it houses a guest barn designed to give visitors a bird’s eye view of the dairy operation.


At New Day guests can watch 150 dairy cows 24/7 as they eat, rest and are milked by Rita, the milking robot, from comfortable quarters overlooking the modern barn.


They can even read with the cows on Friday mornings or become a farmer for a day.


“We of course take great care for biosecurity, and the cows’ peace of mind,” says Lynn Bolin, who with her husband Dan own and operate New Day Dairy. “The guests are never left alone down with the cows. Guests learn about cow care and comfort and the dairy supply chain. They also get to eat home-grown dairy products and even listen to Dan serenade the cows with his guitar.”


The enterprise has become one of the most unique and popular ag tourism destinations in the Midwest.


But what isn’t unique about New Day Dairy is the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers’ role in its beginning.


Helping site new dairies is just one of the ways CSIF helps farmers.


Dan, a 5th generation dairy farmer, and Lynn, a city girl, met at Iowa State University. After time abroad, including time in Turkey learning the dairy business there, they decided to come back to Dan’s family’s dairy farm in 2011 and build a new barn with the latest in milking technologies.


Expanding Dan’s parents’ dairy operation required a new barn site. The existing dairy on the original 1890s farmstead sat tucked in a valley with poor drainage.


“We really had to look at what the farm looked like at the time and what we wanted it to look like in the future,” says Lynn. “We needed a larger barn with adequate manure storage and flood protection.”


One of the first calls they made was to CSIF. Brian Waddingham responded.


“What makes the Coalition so unique is that we believe in sitting across from a farmer at their kitchen table to really get an understanding of each individual situation,” said CSIF Executive Director, Brian Waddingham.  “Every farm is unique and every family has different goals. We want to help grow farms in a responsible and successful manner that will provide a significant boost not only to the farmer, but to their community and quality of life as well.”


“Brian came with flood maps and soil type maps,” says Lynn. “He showed us what we needed to do to complete the project well and responsibly.”


He also offered an individualized approach.


“Every farmer is dealt a deck of cards, and every farmer has to play his own deck,” says Lynn. “You have to work with the available land and resources.”


Brian steered them to a hay field on the top of a hill where they could construct the new barn with the least environmental impact.

“CSIF was a great partner in those beginning stages,” says Lynn. “It put us where we wanted to be.”


CSIF’s primary role was in the siting and neighbor relations, while the Bolin’s managed the design of the buildings.


The idea for the unique tourism opportunity came from the Bolins, a family with a long history of innovation and community and industry involvement.


Dan’s father Dave Bolin is a director on the Butler County Farm Bureau board and a substitute teacher for Clarksville School District, his ‘retirement’ occupation. Dan’s mother Pam is a director on the Iowa Division of Midwest Dairy board and board advisor to the Iowa Dairy Princess committee. Both are active in their church and play in the Great Waverly Municipal Band. The entire family is active in 4-H.


The family received the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award in 2023 for their emphasis on animal care and resource conservation as well as their community roles and success in educating the public about dairy and agriculture.


“The Bolin family is just one great example of the 187 farm families who have received the Good Farm Neighbor Award.  We work with Iowa livestock farm families everyday who go to great lengths to provide the best possible care for their animals and the environment, while still being good neighbors and active community members,” says Waddingham.


“There are a lot of farmers doing the right thing, but they fly under the radar,” says Lynn. “It was an honor to be recognized.”


Booked most weekends and some weekdays, guests come to New Day Dairy from around the world.


“People are more curious now than ever about where their food comes from,” says Lynn. “No matter who or where you are, you eat food. It unifies us.”


But New Day Dairy is first and foremost a working dairy, with cows to feed and milk and manure to manage.


“The guest barn provides a great opportunity for diversification,” says Lynn, “but farming is a full-time job, and we, like so many others, are committed to ‘doing it right’. That’s where CSIF comes in. That’s what they’re here to help us do.”


CSIF is a non-profit, non-lobbying organization formed in 2004 to help livestock farmers “do it right.” Funded by the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation, Midwest Dairy and the North Central Poultry Association, it helps farmers interpret rules and regulations for siting and offers counseling for good neighbor relations and positive environmental impact. All at no cost to farmers.

(By Terri Queck-Matzie for CSIF. Queck-Matzie is a freelance writer from Greenfield).

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