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Retiring With Thanks: A Tribute to Idaho’s Dairy Farmers

For the past few weeks, I have been in the midst of filming on Idaho dairies capturing stories of how dairy families produce a wholesome food for people to consume in Idaho, the U.S. and the world. It’s been a good reminder of why I have enjoyed working for United Dairymen of Idaho for almost twenty years. My career with UDI is coming to a close, but my passion for agriculture will always be with me.

Dairy Tour Group

Cheri with farmers, friends and partners at Beranna Dairy

As someone who grew up in the city, I had never been on a farm until I started working for UDI, so the learning curve was steep! It is fascinating to step into a milking parlor and watch computers running sophisticated programs to monitor the health of each cow, see the huge fans and misters used to cool cows, or even learning something as simple as it’s better to use cloth towels to clean cows’ udders because they can be washed and reused instead of paper towels, which are used once and thrown away. Dairy farmers are constantly looking for new ideas and technology to help them take the very best care of their cows and produce safe, high quality milk.

And it isn’t just about producing milk. It’s about the people on the farm. It’s about the kids who are up at the crack of dawn feeding the calves, the wife who takes care of the paperwork for the farm, the parents who used to own the dairy and watch with pride as their children take over, while still providing guidance or giving a grandchild a ride to a soccer game because mom and dad are caring for a cow and can’t leave the farm.

I remember walking with a farmer on his dairy. He saw a tiny scrap of paper on the ground. He angrily reached down and picked it up, shoving it in his pocket. It was obvious the small piece of paper upset him. When I asked him why, he said, “Cheri, if I don’t take pride in my dairy and how my cows are treated, who will? It starts with me, so even a little piece of paper makes a difference.” That’s just how dairy farmers are. I’ve seen it over and over again on the dairies I’ve visited during the course of my career.

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Cheri at her alma mater with the UDI team

I for one, am grateful these dedicated people are on their farms each and every day making sure when I walk into my grocery store, I have a local food source that is not only nutritious, but it tastes good too.

So, while I am leaving my job behind to start a new adventure, I will always, always, be an advocate for Idaho’s dairy farm families. I know how hard they work, how much they care about their animals and I truly believe milk is nature’s perfect food.

I hope everyone takes the time to learn more about Idaho’s dairy families by checking our website at IdahoDairy.com. Or, if you meet a farmer, thank him or her for the food they provide for all of us.

I wish my colleagues at UDI the very best. We have a great team and I know they will continue to promote Idaho’s dairy farm families because they deserve no less.

By: Cheri Chase, Senior Director of Consumer Confidence (for three more days!)
 
Cheri Chase has been with the United Dairymen of Idaho for 20 years. During her career with UDI she has shown a deep passion for her work and an unmatched dedication to the dairy farm families of Idaho.  She enters retirement with her husband, Kevin. They will spend their time on many long walks with their two dogs, traveling to the Oregon Coast and riding their Harley-Davidson motorcycle.