Western Iowa Dairy Alliance Open House 2019

The Western Iowa Dairy Alliance open house will be held in Merrill on June 9. Educational fun and games — along with grilled cheese sandwiches — will be provided at the free event.

MERRILL—The Western Iowa Dairy Alliance is hoping to add some cow factor to its open house on Wednesday, June 9.

Plenty of children’s games, educational activities and food will be available at the free event.

The promotional gathering for National Dairy Month will take place at Perry Creek Dairy in rural Plymouth County.

WIDA president Adam Maassen said the Orange City-based nonprofit can leverage the public’s desire to attend large gatherings again while cheerleading the industry.

“We will basically educate the consumer and the public what a modern dairy farm looks like,” he said.

That modernization means bigger emphases on cow comfort and sustainable practices, he said, explaining market-driven shifts in the dairy business.

“The better you treat the animals, the better they’ll feel and the more productive life they’ll have,” Maassen said. “And I would say a portion of it would be the consumers’ concern for the animals’ well-being.”

The milkman emphasized the tours around Perry Creek that will be available.

The Feuerhelm family completed their second facility in May 2019. It features an 80-stall parlor, milking up to 3,600 cows three times per day. The dairy has 7.5 acres of under-roof freestall barns for cow comfort, safety, and environmental stewardship.

Showing off the region’s commitment to sustainability is critical for keeping the industry butter side up.

Better water management and filtration, more efficient lighting and healthier feed all go into beefing up the standards on the region’s dairy farms.

“Sustainability has to be good for the animal, good for the environment, good for the person taking care of them and good for the consumer. All those things matter,” he said.

Maassen took over as head of the WIDA in January.

His father is a founding member and the pair run their Maurice farm, Maassen Dairy, with the president’s two brothers.

The nonprofit assists in lobbying state lawmakers to support an industry that puts the “culture” in agriculture.

One key legislative area Maassen singled out was support for immigration.

“It’s always been immigration and immigration reform because dairy has high need for people that are immigrants as far as our employment pool base,” he said.

The previous open house was held in 2019 at J&S Dairy in Sioux Center. The event is popular enough to elicit a visit from Gov. Kim Reynolds the last time it was held.

Maassen said he is optimistic about turnout for this year’s open house, estimating about 3,500 visitors. He pointed to high attendance at the Tulip Festival in Orange City as well as the open house’s location closer to Sioux City as reason to hope for a big crowd.

Of the many attractions, free grilled cheese sandwiches will be served at the evening’s cow-tastic party.

More information about the June 9 open house can be found at the WIDA Facebook page.