A Jackson County farm family is finding a way to promote dairy farming to thousands who’ve never been on one: they share the daily lives of their cows. But, posting online updates about each cow is translating to more than social media ‘likes’ and fans; it’s translating to sales for the cheese and ice cream which come from cows on this small dairy farm. Moore Family Farms’ interest in sharing the story of agriculture and their innovative marketing approach has helped them earn the Iowa Farm Bureau Renew Rural Iowa Entrepreneur award.
Heather and Brandon Moore started Moore Family Farms near Maquoketa about 10 years ago as a stock cow farm. As a nod to Heather’s Wisconsin dairy farming roots, they added a small dairy herd of 50 cows a few years later. Moore says with livestock and grain prices in flux, they soon realized they had to take on a new approach to keep the farm sustainable. Moore says that’s when they learned the value of helping today’s consumers connect with their cows.
They named their cows, created a Facebook page and posted updates on their daily activities. Success was swift; they sold 700 pounds of cheese in less than six weeks. Although the Moores outsource their products for processing out of state, everything else is local. So, while the Moores sell their cheese to customers in 16 states, Jackson County Farm Bureau President Jody Martens says the Moores add value to the farm and to the Maquoketa area community, at the same time.
Looking to the future, Heather Moore sees value in making everything local. “Eventually, we want to start a farm site creamery, to make most of our milk into our own cheese and our own brand. We’d love to be able to make ice cream and butter and all of that. I guess we’ll just continue to make progress both on the farm and in our shop.”
Helping rural Iowa businesses continue to grow is central to everything that Renew Rural Iowa (RRI) does. “We all get energized by helping new ideas get off the ground, or helping existing businesses grow by offering a variety of education, mentoring, and financial resources. And it’s working; founded by Iowa Farm Bureau Federation more than 10 years ago, RRI has helped create $125M in economic impact for rural communities,” says RRI’s Sandy Ehrig.
The next RRI Business Success Seminar, “The Journey to Your Vision,” takes place in October. For more information about that upcoming seminar, RRI and the RRI Pathways, a searchable technology that connects entrepreneurs with resources, go to http://programs.iowafarmbureau.com/RRI/.