Sunnyside dairy hosts congressional visit

Skyridge Dairy Farm owner Dan DeGroot explains how compost is exported during a farm tour.

Washington State Dairy Federation
Skyridge Dairy Farm owner Dan DeGroot explains how compost is exported during a farm tour.

— A local dairy hosted a visit from Congressman Dan Newhouse’s office.

Newhouse’s District Director, Jamie Daniels, toured Skyridge Farms to see firsthand how a Lower Yakima Valley dairy operation cares for cows, ensures the quality of milk and how it converts manure into nutrient-rich all organic compost as part of their mandatory Dairy Nutrient Management Plan.

“It was interesting to see how a large dairy operation manages everything from milk to manure,” Daniels said. “The Skyridge dairy farm is an excellent example of a forward thinking dairy farmer seeking to balance environmental stewardship with the practicalities of running a business.”

She says constituent services are an important part of her job.

Dan DeGroot, who owns and has operated Skyridge Farms since 1982, said tours for elected officials and staff is important to clear up misinformation about farm operations and show how advances in dairy farming fuel best practices.

“We emphasized how nutritious feed increases production while reducing emissions, and how new equipment is changing the way irrigate, and how manure nutrients are applied to crop fields using GPS technology.” he said. “As I talk with other dairy farmers, no one wants to do things the wrong way.”

Organized by the Yakima Dairy Federation, the Skyridge tour included the farm’s milking parlor and fluid milk quality control systems. Visitors also saw a centrifuge that separates solids from manure that are converted into nutrient-rich-organic compost.

The tour concluded with a discussion of the future of technology and education-driven dairy farming.

“During more than 30 years as a dairy farmer, I’ve seen a lot of change,” DeGroot said. “A modern dairy farm is much different than only a few years ago, largely attributable to better educated farmers and technology.”


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