COOPERSVILLE, Mich. — Langeland Farms Inc. in Coopersville, Mich., is the winner of the 2022 Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) – FARM Dairy Award. Langeland Farms was started in 1928 with only 120 acres and 33 cows. Today, the operation has grown to 1,100 milk cows, 850 replacement heifers and 800 steers. As the operation grew, Langeland Farms hired more employees and established a system of training them in BQA and FARM Animal Care guidelines to accomplish their goal of producing quality milk and beef.
With 20 full-time employees and four part-time employees, Rebecca Smith, an owner and operator of Langeland Farms, knew open communication and training would be critical for the farm’s success. FARM-approved practices such as annual employee training, signed cow care agreements and written protocols in the native language of the employee have allowed Langeland Farms to build a strong and trustworthy workforce.
“I never want to get so big where I’m working over people – I’d rather work with them,” said Merle Langeland, an owner and operator of Langeland Farms. “When you’re working side by side with your employees, you can’t help but rub off on them. That’s how people learn.”
To further encourage participation and continuous learning, Smith implemented monthly team meetings to review a wide range of BQA and FARM training topics. These meetings are interactive and feature combinations of videos, demonstrations and guest speakers. To encourage participation in the discussions, Langeland offers quarterly bonuses to employees. Those who have gone above and beyond in their duties and have learned more about animal care receive the bonus.
“Since the start of the monthly meetings, Langeland Farms has experienced a very low employee turnover compared to other farms in the area,” Smith said. “We’ve also noticed that employees are empowered to come up with their own solutions to problems before reaching out for help.”
The team at Langeland Farms attributes the BQA and FARM Animal Care guidelines in being instrumental in their ability to successfully expand their herd over the past 15 years. Their participation in the BQA and Dairy FARM program has allowed them to produce safe and high quality milk while providing excellent animal care and a good working environment for their employees.
“The most important thing about the BQA experience for me is learning the proper way to communicate with employees and allowing them the opportunity to present ideas,” Smith said. “When you work individually and just give orders, you won’t always have the best outcome. Not one person always has the best ideas. It takes a group of people.”
The BQA – FARM Dairy Award is funded in part by the Beef Checkoff with additional support from Cargill. For more information on Langeland Farms Inc. and other 2022 BQA Award winners, visit www.bqa.org/about/bqa-awards.
About Beef Quality Assurance
Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program funded by the Beef Checkoff that provides U.S. beef producers guidelines and certification drawn from common sense husbandry techniques and accepted scientific knowledge on how to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. BQA reflects a positive public image and instills consumer confidence in the beef industry. When producers implement the best management practices of a BQA program, they assure their cattle are the best they can be. For more information on BQA, visit www.bqa.org.
— Beef Quality Assurance