Meet the Hanson family: Owners of Hanson Farms Ltd. Morris and his brother Ken began dairy farming in 1970 with their wives Diane and Jane. In 1987, the Hansons bought a turkey farm in Oliver, BC. This turkey farm was taken over by Ken and Jane, while Morris and Diane continued operation of the dairy farm in Creston, BC, with their family.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a dairy farmer?
From a young age I was always keen on all aspects of our home dairy operation in Ladner where my dad had a registered Guernsey herd, but that decision became more real at about 20 years old when I purchased three registered Holstein cows and three heifer calves and became a registered Holstein breeder two years later in 1968.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received from a fellow dairy farmer?
My dad would tell me many things, always encouraging me to look at things with optimism as to the pot being half full not half empty, and the fact that most always those involved have something positive to bring to the table and you need to determine what that is.
What’s one thing you wish you could tell consumers about dairy farming?
First, dairy farming is a good life. We have a desire to be good stewards of the land as well as a great concern for the wellbeing of our livestock. We have the privilege of producing the finest food possible in our milk, cheese yogurt and ice cream, whether it is conventional or organic.
What family members are involved with your operation, and what are their responsibilities?
Trevor manages all repair and maintenance and oversees a large portion of our cropping operation. Shona, Trevor’s wife milks part time. Jeff keeps our bills paid, manages payroll and works closely with Trevor on the farming operation and with Rob on dairy side. Jacqueline, Jeff’s wife, also milks part time and helps take care of calves. Rob Woods is like family. He manages the dairy side, breeding and all dairy staff. Robs wife, Nancy, also milks part time. Diane, my wife, still does an untold amount of work for our accountant and manages to always have time to do something special for each of our 18 grand children. Myself, I am deeply blessed. I work closely with Trevor, Jeff and Rob and maintain a good presence in most areas. At this point I oversee the marketing of our steer operation, our dairy production and quota management, as well as the financial needs of the business.
Are you primarily dairy focused? Do you have any other animals, or are you involved in any other type of agriculture (ie: beef, poultry, cropping, floriculture, etc.)?
We are primarily dairy focused; however, we farm 1500 acres. This consists of 250 acres in silage corn, 150 acres in grain corn, 550 acres in hay and forage, 500 acres in barley and about 50 acres in pasture. We also grow and finish approximately 500 Black Angus steers which we market into the US. All crops are grown to support the dairy and beef operation.
If you could do one thing differently in your herd/operation, barring and financial barriers, what would it be?
I think I have lived my dream and I am not sure that I have any regrets or that I would have changed anything.
What is the ultimate goal of your operation (it can be anything! ie: breeding goals, size increases, specialty product [like organic], providing high quality product, family business, etc……anything!)?
First, for me, it is important to manage your debt well and aggressively. But some of the farming goals for my family and I have always been to build a good herd of registered Holsteins, to have a clean operation that is a good example to others, to treat our cattle well, always with care, to always be sure to pay our bills promptly and to be straight up in all that we do. The greatest challenge at this time for Diane and I is the whole process of succession planning.
Do you have a favourite cow? Why is she your favourite?
My favorite cow was Frazie Ideal Model. I bought her from the Mays Family sale in Richmond in 1968. She topped the sale and was one of our foundation cows in our herd. Today our grandkids some time enjoy tracing the pedigree of their 4H calves all the way back into the 70’s in our own herd.
What’s your favourite dairy product? (Be specific! Ice cream flavour?)
My favorite dairy product is maple walnut ice cream.
If you could dairy farm anywhere in the world, barring any financial or physical barriers, where would you go? Why?
While Creston does have some challenges, it has been good to us, and it is a beautiful valley to farm in, and raise a family.
If you have grandkids: What is their favourite farm chore/activity? Why?
Our grandkids favorite chores are working with the calves but they are always keen to learn new things on the farm. Whether it is to do with milking in the parlor or working in the shop or driving tractor.
|This farm has been in our family since 1970