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Farmer named 2015 MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year


January 19, 2015
By Nicole Hersch Student Michigan State University Extension

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MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year Mike Rasmussen operates Hillhaven Farms along with his family. Pictured, L-R, are Jesse, Sonja, Wilbert, Mike and Gracie Rasmussen. Photo by J.R. Dude Photography.

January 19, 2015, East Lansing, MI – Mike Rasmussen of Edmore, Mich., is the Michigan State University Department of Animal Science‘s 2015 Dairy Farmer of the Year.

“I am very humbled that the industry I love would recognize me,” Rasmussen said. “There have been some pretty great people in the past who have received this honor, and it is very gratifying to be among them.”

Rasmussen operates Hillhaven Farms along with his wife, Sonja, and three children – Jesse, Wilbert and Gracie. Mike and his father, Chris Rasmussen, are co-owners of the Montcalm County farm.

Hillhaven Farms has made many improvements while transitioning from a 150-cow dairy to its current herd of 870 cows and 720 youngstock.

In 2004, the farm completed its first Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP), though the Rasmussens have been testing and applying manure nutrients according to crop uptake since 1986. This has greatly reduced commercial fertilizer usage on the farm. The Rasmussens are currently working with MSU researchers to develop new technologies to conserve natural resources and protect their land. In 2010, the farm began recycling manure solids to use as bedding in the continuing effort to upgrade land management practices to improve the environment.

“We may be a larger farm for our geographic area, but we still have the same midsize family-oriented and sustainable atmosphere we had when we had 150 cows,” Rasmussen said.

Opening Hillhaven Farms to the public has been a big part of the Rasmussens’ involvement in their community. They host an animal science class from Montcalm Community College each year, allowing the college to use the farm as a classroom and hands-on learning environment.

“Mike is a great representative of dairy farmers of Michigan who strive to manage crop nutrients to protect the environment and work to develop new technologies to be incorporated into modern food production,” said Janice Swanson, MSU Department of Animal Science chair. “In addition, he takes time to provide outreach and educational opportunities to the public by opening his farm to a local college for hands on experiences.”

The award will be presented Feb. 6 during the Dairy Industry Recognition Banquet at the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference. The conference runs Feb. 5-7 in Frankenmuth, Mich.


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