Size of Operation: 2,600 head
In Business Since: 1913
Farm Credit Partner: Farm Credit West
Working with Farm Credit Since: 1982
In 1912, Joe Airoso's great grandfather relocated to California from the Azores islands to start a dairy farm, where he and other family members milked 15 cows each by hand every day. Today, more than 100 years later, Joey is able to milk 400 cows an hour thanks to a new milking parlor built in 2006 and financed by Farm Credit West.
“We spent about six years researching different kinds of dairy barns," says Joey. “This one is the most efficient we found and it works well for the cows and for our employees."
The 72-cow rotary barn enables each cow to be in and out in about 45 minutes, leaving them more time to eat and relax, producing the next batch of milk. The technology in the barn also reduces the effort required by the operator, helping reduce the amount of labor needed to produce the same amount of milk.
Producing more safe and healthy milk is important to the Airoso family, three generations of which are still working the farm – Joey works side-by-side with his father and his son. Over the years, they've taken steps to improve how they care for their animals, including building barns that keep them out of inclement weather. The cows themselves have been bred to optimize production. “In just the last 60 or 70 years, cows have improved to where they're producing 66 percent more milk today with 66 percent fewer cows," says Joey.
That improvement in production has been matched by an expansion in the dairy operation, including purchasing additional land with financing from Farm Credit West. “You have to expand your operation so there's enough income for all the family members," says Joey. The additional land is necessary to provide forage for the cows and enable the Airoso family to manage an effective nutrition plan for their growing herd.
Farm Credit has been a strong financial partner to the Airoso family over the years. “The 80s for farming got pretty tough, and Farm Credit stuck with us through it all," says Joey. “We had another downturn in 2009 and it's been a difficult five years. Farm Credit has held the line and stuck with us because they understand commodity prices, and they know that times change and things get better."
The dairy's milk is shipped to Land O'Lakes, where it's processed into products sold across the country. “It makes you pretty proud to walk in the store and see your products sitting on the shelves," says Joey. “You know you're doing a good thing, providing something that people love and need."
Joey also appreciates being able to do what he loves and look into the future to see his operation continuing. “My son is already following in my footsteps and I'm happy to see my four-year-old grandson exploring the dairy whenever he can," says Joey. “It gives me a shot in the arm knowing that there will be Arioso family helping feed the world in 20 years and, hopefully, a long time after."