Dairy Heroes


Dairy producers in Europe tell about their experiences on the farm.

With milk production more than doubling in the last 50 years, demand has seen dairy farmers become some of the most innovative and progressive food suppliers in the agricultural industry. And as global population surges beyond seven billion, this trend is set to continue.

From cream to whey, from cheese to yogurt, the uses for milk have been as varied as the stories from the dairy farms themselves. Alltech invite you to share your stories, celebrating your dairy hero, the one that goes the extra mile everyday. Whether it’s your mum, your child or a member of your farm team, tell us about their passion for the dairy farming lifestyle.

Your Nominated Dairy Heroes

Bel Martin

M - Alltech Dairy Hero

Congratulations to the late Bel Martin from the United States of America, who was nominated by the general public to become an Alltech Dairy Hero. Martin was selected to become December’s Alltech Dairy Hero due to his continual efforts in promoting the dairy industry.

Bel and his wife Gilda migrated to the United States of America from the Azores Islands in 1950. Although they barely spoke English and didn't have much money they never gave up on their dreams. Together they worked hard and started a dairy business. This partnership grew over the years and eventually became Bel R. Martin & Son’s Dairy, which is now located in Tulare, California.

Dairying was Bel’s true passion. He was a member of Land O'Lakes, Western United Dairymen and the Dairy Herd Information Association for more than 55 years. In 1991 the Martin's were named Dairy Family of the Year. This was an honour the family truly deserved as for many years the Martins and their three sons focused on teaching the dairy and farming trade to young men from the Azores Islands. During this time Martin guided these young men with a kind heart and helping hand, providing them with free room and board.

Martin was a quiet, caring and kind man who never met a stranger and had a smile for everyone. He is proof of what a man may accomplish with lots of hard work; he sacrificed luxuries to be able to provide a good, solid life for his family. Martin is not only and American hero but he is also an Alltech Dairy Hero for his success in building a dairy from nothing and showed us all that it is possible to achieve our dreams.

Sadly Bel passed away and is now remembered fondly by his wife and three sons who run Bel R. Martin & Son’s Dairy.

Do you know someone who is a dairy hero? We would like to recognise all of their hard work in the dairy industry. Please nominate your Alltech Dairy Hero here.

Mary Faber

Mary Faber - Alltech Dairy Hero

Congratulations to Mary Faber from Pontiac, Illinois, United States of America, who was nominated by the general public to become an Alltech Dairy Hero. Mary was selected by an independent panal to become September’s Alltech Dairy Hero due to her continual efforts in promoting the dairy industry.

Mary is a 5th generation dairy and grain farmer. Currently she works as the controller of a local cooperative, which services the area’s farmers with feed, crop inputs and a grain storage facility.

Mary is an amazing advocate for the dairy industry. She holds a strong online presence across several social media channels by consistently engaging and sharing a positive dairy message with her fellow American dairy farmers. On her blog she discusses: milk labels, expiration dates, why some milk has a longer shelf life and more. Mary does all of this to help consumers with their common milk questions and concerns. Some of Mary’s blogs are also available on watchusgrow.org.

In addition to her wonderful online work, Mary actively shares her dairy story offline too. Here are just some of her other involvements: Inaugural Illinois Harvest Dinner, Ag Land Fair, Illinois Farm Bureau Nutrient Spokeswomen, Illinois Farm Bureau Consumer Communications Advisory Committee and the Illinois Farm Families dairy tour farm mom.

Mary is also a volunteer for a new project, Ask the farmers. Through this initiative she shares blog posts and helps to answer questions on all things dairy. mary is dedicated to supporting the dairy community, for this she is truly a dairy hero!

Ray Prock, Jr.

Ray Prock, Jr. - Alltech Dairy Hero

Congratulations to Ray Prock Jr. from California, USA, who has been chosen as the newest Alltech Dairy Hero.

Ray is a true Dairy Hero and an advocate of the agricultural industry. He has helped spread the message worldwide and has even developed relationships with politicians on both local and national levels. This has lead to Ray testifying before the California Senate Agriculture Committee and State Assembly Committee on Agriculture.

Ray works hard on his family’s Ray-Lin Dairy, and is involved with several agricultural organizations, including: the National Dairy Promotion board, DMI Social Media Advisory Committee, California Milk Advisory Board, California Dairy Campaign and several Farm Bureau groups. He also helped to found the AgChat Foundation.

Ray excels in promoting and maintaining an interactive agricultural experience through his use of online media. He uses platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and blogs to speak with people outside of the farming world and help them to “bridge the gap between the farm and families’ food choices”. So far it is estimated that Ray has projected this positive message of Agriculture to tens of thousands of consumers.

It is for Ray’s focus, passion and commitment to the dairy industry and the overall agricultural industry that he is a Dairy Hero!

*Ray has also been named as the Holstein Foundation’s 2014 Young Dairy Leaders Institute Distinguished Alumni Leader. This award is only given to one person annually to acknowledge their notable contributions and utilization of their skills to better the Dairy Industry.

Christian Mertz

Christian Mertz - Alltech Dairy Hero

Congratulations to Christian Mertz, Crock, Germany, who has been chosen as an Alltech Dairy Hero

Christian is 24 years old and is a herd manager of the stables at Waisagrund Agrar GmbH Crock. He has turned his hobby into a profession. In his apprenticeship, he participated in numerous competitions and has had some great success in the zBden league milk competitions. He is in the running for the title of Young Breeder of the Year and is an honorary member of the Thuringian Young Breeders Club. He works with rural youth organisations and encourages young people to be enthusiastic about dairy farming and support our profession.

Christian encourages the importance of the breeding process in his stable, and that cow comfort is paramount. He always tries to make changes to better their living conditions. Christian loves his profession and always has a smile on his face when he comes to work. He doesn't mind staying extra hours in the barn or in the pasture keeping a watchful eye over the farm. When he has spare time he checks on his cows, because it is always a good idea to have a quick look

He is always open to helping and always lends a hand. Christian just deserves to be a "Dairy Hero!"

James Vaughan

James Vaughan - Alltech Dairy Hero

Congratulations to James Vaughan, herd manager of Moulton College dairy unit in Northamptonshire, UK who has been chosen as an Alltech Dairy Hero.

James was chosen because of his dedication to making a hugely positive impact on the unit and has been the driving force behind the big changes that have made such an impact on the farm. This year, he was awarded ‘Most Improved Farm’ from his vets and NMR. This has come from his attention to detail especially when it comes to the milking parlour and cow health. Since January, the farm has had no cases of mastitis which is a real achievement in itself! James is looking to make even more improvements to the unit and is especially focussed on lowering lameness in his herd.

Alltech are looking for more of these Dairy Heroes to give recognition for their hard work and showcase dairy farming in their country to the rest of the world. Nominate your Dairy Hero at www.dairyheroes.com.

Our First Dairy Hero - Leontien van de Laar

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Leontien van de Laar who sadly passed away on 10th January 2013. Leontien was a true hero and inspiration to us all. She will continue to inspire us all to follow our dreams, live each day to the fullest and grasp life with both hands. May you rest in peace Leontien.

Leontien's Story

We are delighted to crown our first Dairy Hero - Leontien van de Laar. Leontien is the most courageous and inspiring dairy woman. Originally from Holland, Leontien fell in love with farming when she was just a girl but she always dreamt of starting her own farm in America; a dream she pursued when she moved to Indiana with her family and started a 2,000 cow dairy farm.

However, only five months after she began milking on her new farm, Leontien was given the devastating news that she had skin cancer and had less than a year to live. That was three years ago and this determined, amazing woman is fighting the disease with everything she has and with the support of her fabulous husband Bastiaan (who she has married 3 times) and her family behind her.

Throughout her treatment, Leontien still insisted on working on the dairy farm and also began blogging about her journey at fourleafcloverdairy.blogspot.com.

This brave lady inspires us all to follow our dreams, live each day to the full and grasp life with both hands. Leontien, you truly are a Dairy Hero and we send you our prayers and thoughts during this holiday season and beyond.

Leontien's story was the No. 1 read article in the Progressive Dairyman.

Follow Leontien's journey at http://www.fourleafcloverdairy.blogspot.com or http://www.fourleafcloverdairy.com. Show her your support at http://www.facebook.com/LoveForLeontien

Leontien convinced her family to move to America
and all work on the dairy farm.

Nomination Form