Volume No. 1
Welcome to our new blog series, Dairying: Through a Woman’s Eyes. This series will highlight women who are actively owning and operating dairy farms around our great state of Washington. These women play pivitol roles in day to day farming operations; shattering the old stigma of dairy farming.
Take a moment to close your eyes and paint a picture of a modern-day dairy farmer. Okay, let me guess… you pictured a man with dirty overalls and a pitchfork in his hand? Well, close your eyes again, but this time picture a woman. A business woman. A 4-H leader. A mom. A dairy farmer.
Women are playing a HUGE role in running the many dairy farms throughout our beautiful state of Washington and country. Meet Brenda Prins, who owns and operates a third generation dairy farm with her husband, Aaron.
Brenda was raised on a farm in Iowa, but moved to Washington after meeting her husband, in college. Now Brenda and Aaron, along with their three kids, Alex, Austin, and Zoe, own Double P Dairy L.L.C. in Mabton, Washington.
If you think dairy farming is just about milking cows – think again. According to Brenda, “It’s not just about producing quality products; we’re running a highly-regulated business.” Government agencies have strict guidelines for dairies that have made record-keeping a 24/7 job. One of Brenda’s duties on the farm is to help manage those meticulous records. Everything that happens on the farm must be documented. Whether it’s a safety training for employees, how many gallons of milk each cow is producing each day, or manure management practices – it all goes in the books. The Washington State Department of Agriculture inspects the Prins’ dairy, as well as other dairies throughout the state, a few times each year to ensure the farm is following current regulations. “It’s a lot of work, but every industry needs guidelines to fall within.” Brenda says sometimes it’s hard to know what’s coming next. “Dairying isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago, and it will change even more in the next ten years.”
On top of juggling the lives of her three kids, along with dairy responsibilities, which is no doubt a lot of work, Brenda is also passionate about devoting her time to her local 4-H club, where she is a leader. 4-H runs in the Prins family, and for good reason, “it’s a great program for the kids,” Brenda explained. “4-H helps kids learn responsibility, time and money management, confidence, and other life lessons that you can’t learn in a book.” Brenda’s kids are highly involved in the club and show dairy and beef cows at the local fair. She feels a sense of fulfillment as she leads her children, as well as many others, through their 4-H journey. “The selflessness and teamwork that these kids and parents show each other is rare to see anymore, so it’s very rewarding to me,” Brenda continued.
Brenda’s favorite part of dairying? Being able to run the dairy farm as a family. “There aren’t a lot of jobs nowadays that a son or daughter can go to work with his/her parents every day.” Many farmers have had a dairy in their family for generations. The Prins have a very strong sense of pride to preserve their farm for future generations. Brenda and Aaron hope to expand their dairy so their kids can take it on when they are ready to step down. “Our boys were born with the desire to come back to the farm. A family farm should be a family farm.” And she intends to keep it that way.