The circle of dairy farming
By Renae B. Vander Schaaf
Date Modified: 07/10/2012 3:39 PM
MAURICE, Iowa — Lee Maassen is as comfortable working on his farm as he is speaking to dairy producers in Australia and New Zealand.
"I am a dairy farmer," says Maassen. "Every day, I get to work at producing food, milk and meat. A dairy farm is a complete circle, crops from the land feed the dairy cows who in turn produce milk for others. Nutrients go back to the land to produce another crop. The circle in not broken, and I like that."
His parents, John and Marie, had a diversified farm just down the road from where the present dairy is. John Maassen milked cows on that place with his father Teunis. Teunis Maassen was born just a stone's throw away from the farm.
Cows were also an important part of their livelihood.
Maassen milked cows with his brothers Terry and Marv. His brothers were involved with Maassen Dairy Farms, but later were called to different vocations. Today, he farms with his three sons, Aaron, Adam and Stefan.
Maassen Dairy has a 700 cow herd with approximately 625 milking at a time on a three times a day schedule. The operation includes 12 full-time employees and three part-timers.
The cows are verified-identity Holsteins. The farm produces some of the forages and grains needed and additional distillers grain and corn is purchased for the dairy cows and beef cattle in the feedlot. The milk is sold to AMPI in Sanborn, with much of it going to the Agripur Cheese Plant in Hull.
Maassen just completed his term as Western Iowa Dairy Alliance president and is a board member of the Iowa State Dairy Association.
Maassen worked with Chris Mondak, Iowa State University dairy specialist and others to unite dairy farmers. WIDA gives us a voice on policy issues that affect agriculture.
"Because of WIDA we now have dairy open houses, which allow us to educate the consumer, give them an opportunity to visit a dairy," said Maassen. "We had a booth at Sioux City's home show. There we worked with other livestock groups conducting a survey. Each day we had a drawing for $250 grocery money.''
The dairy industry is strong in northeast and northwest Iowa. Not only are they on the opposite side of the states, but often their dairying style is different. Their dairies are more grass-based.
Dairy Iowa spans the state.
"Dairy Iowa is designed to create the synergy needed to bring dairy to the top in Iowa," said Maassen.
Maassen said he's glad to get involved.
"Being involved with dairy organizations has taken me many places," said Maassen. "In Australia and New Zealand, the dairy farmers were interested in USA dairies, as I was in theirs."
Maassen helped to plan the 2008 annual world conference of the InternationalCalibration and Animal Recording organization that involved all nations that haveany animals that produce milk or wool or hair in quantities for resale.
"I am so proud of my wife, Emily, and our children to be able to have them as part of the dairy business and farming operation.It is not only a business but a great way to raise a family and grandkids," said Maassen. "To see them enjoying what they do and being rewarded for their efforts is a great blessing. If it were not for all of them, much of opportunitiesof life would have never have been possible and which makes it all worthwhile being in a business of dairying that I enjoy."