The Gleaner
Agriculture

Dundee farm is recognized for high-quality dairy

Fermes Soesbergen has been recognized both provincially and regionally for their high-quality dairy production. This farm is a third-generation enterprise in Dundee with around 110 cows. Peter Van Soesbergen and his wife Johanna founded the farm in 1962. It was then passed on to their sons William and John in 1988. In 2011, Chris (William’s son) became a shareholder, and the farm became Fermes Soesbergen Inc. Nickolas (John’s son) became a shareholder in 2016, and Jenna (John’s daughter) joined in 2019. At this point, 90 per cent of the farm is owned by the third generation of Soesbergens.

In March, Sollio Agriculture released its list of top-10 dairy producers of 2023, and Fermes Soesbergen placed ninth. Chris shares that this was “the first time we’ve ranked that high, so it felt good.” They placed ninth out of the 337 farms that are part of the organization.

This was announced shortly after Fermes Soesbergen had placed third in dairy performance for the Uniag Cooperative. Both of these recognitions stem from the fact that they have been able to have a high level of total components (protein and fat) in their milk. They currently produce 3.01 kilograms of quota per cow per day. Chris explains that “The milk plants want more fat and protein. They have a bigger market for making by-products like cheese and yogurt than they do for liquid milk almost.”

 

Keeping cows clean and comfy Fermes Soesbergen strives to improve their methods of quality milk production with each year PHOTO Courtesy of Fermes Soesbergen

 

Both Jenna and Chris are involved in the Uniag Cooperative besides running their farm. Jenna works as the vice-president of the board of directors. “We go to meetings once per month and we talk about the company and the direction of the cooperative,” she says, and adds that she’s involved in the business management of the co-op. Chris serves as the English-language representative for the Haut-Saint-Laurent syndicate of the Union des Producteurs Agricoles (UPA). He is responsible for attending meetings and bringing important issues to the attention of the board of directors. The union also provides resources like CPR training to farmers.

Getting their farm to be able to produce such high-quality dairy is an ongoing process. “In the last ten years we have always gone up in production because we always seem to be improving on something: cow comfort, high quality feed, lots of time spent in the barn keeping them clean and comfy,” Chris says. Jenna echoes this by sharing that each step of the process is equally important, and it takes time. “It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something you work on over many years. And it’s something that you work on forever. Just because we’re good now, to maintain that you have to keep working on it.”

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