From a recent remodel that keeps their hard-working dairy cows more comfortable (and productive) to using no-till practices to a new silage slab that protects soil and water quality, at Van Beek Brothers’ Dairy in California, sustainability is a way of life.
Van Beek Brothers’ Dairy was the recipient of the first loan made through the new Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN Innovation Financing program. This new offering makes up to $3 million in equity-based financing available to eligible Land O’Lakes member-owners to implement large-scale, conservation projects on-farm that demonstrate a measurable, positive air, soil or water quality outcome.
Through the program, Van Beek Brothers’ Dairy was awarded a $1.5 million loan to install a methane digester on their farm. The digester will manage manure from their 2,300 dairy cows to generate renewable energy and meet the pending methane regulations in California. Examples of other eligible projects include manure management systems or technology like manure separators, lagoon covers, centrifuges, solar panels, drip irrigation and wind turbines.
The Van Beeks are excited to be the first farm to participate in Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN Innovation Financing, which is available exclusively to Land O’Lakes members and is the first offering of its kind by an agricultural cooperative.
“This creative financing option was priced better than any other financing option available to us. We continue to be impressed with the innovation offered through the cooperative and particularly by Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN,” said Doug Van Beek, co-owner of Van Beek Brothers’ Dairy.
This award from Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN Innovation Financing is just the next step in a long history of sustainability improvements at Van Beek Brothers’ Farm. The Van Beeks remodeled their farm six years ago, transitioning from an open lot dairy to a free-stall set up and increasing their milk cow capacity from 1,900 to 2,500.
As Doug Van Beek likes to say, “a happy cow is a productive cow,” and that has proven to be true. The free-stall operation provides more cow comfort, which in turn has had a positive impact on production.
In addition to their remodel, the Van Beeks farm approximately 400 acres. Over the last several years, they have adopted a no-till practice on over 60 percent of the acres. Recently, they applied for and received funding from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to supplement the cost of pouring a silage slab to prevent leaching from silage curing into the soil.
They are also working with the California Air Resources Board to access funds that will help them to replace an old tractor with a more efficient, less polluting tractor. At Land O’Lakes, we believe that meaningful sustainability is owned and driven by farmers like the Van Beeks.
That’s why we continue to seek out new ways to provide tools, practices and expertise, like the new Conservation Dairy on-farm sustainability assessments, through Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN, balancing the health of our member-owners’ businesses with the health of the land.