‘Grade A’ Dairy

In Chautauqua County, no industry is more central to every resident more so than agriculture.

While not every resident of the county may be or even know a farmer, it is challenging to travel from one side of the county to the other without at least passing a farm. While not every farm in the county produces dairy, a large number of them proudly do; and the most well-kept dairy farms in the county proudly display a red,white and yellow sign on the edge of their property that reads: Dairy of Distinction.

The Northeast Dairy Farm Beautification Program, which was first established in 1983, recognizes the hard work and dedication of the dairy owner and operator who have attractive, well kept farms and promote a good dairy industry image.

The award is extended to all active dairy farms located in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont. Winning farms receive a special Dairy of Distinction roadside sign for their farmstead.

The program itself is based on the concept that attractive farmsteads enhance consumer confidence in the dairy industry. The award also recognizes the hard work and efforts of all Northeast dairy farmers.

“This grassroots recognition has been the key to the program,” said William Underwood, New York dairy farmer. “This is one way dairy farmers can directly promote their industry.”

The Northeast Dairy Farm Beautification Program was established as a way to say thank you to dedicated dairy farmers all over the northeast, as well as to encourage all dairy farmers in the northeast to build and maintain beautiful, organized and efficient dairy farms.


Since the Dairy of Distinction award was established in 1983, 31 farms have been honored with the award – with many of the farms winning the award several years in a row.

Those farms and farmers (if applicable) are: Allen Anderson, Kennedy; Herbert Nobles, South Dayton; Robert, Carolyn and Philip Beckerink, Clymer; Cabhi Farm, Clymer; Balcom-Flats Farm, Doug and Linda Ivett, South Dayton; Willink Farms, LLC, Norvel and Judy Willink and family, Clymer; Leo and Craig McCray, Clymer; Howard, Lucy, Kris and Becky Ivett and family, South Dayton; J-High Acres, Frewsburg; Oak View Dairy, Bruce and Charlene Kidder and Shawn and Tara Cotter, Jamestown; Mark Persons, Sherman; Dennis and Lona Carlberg, Frewsburg; William Kane, Frewsburg; Minor Brothers Farm, Dan and Allen Minor, Frewsburg; A. Martin Eckman, Jr., Frewsburg; Gustafson Farms, Frewsburg; Todd Smith, Panama; John and Laura Knight, Jamestown; Tim and Mary Rhinehart and family, Kennedy; Bill and Ann Weicht, Clymer; Achilles Farm, South Dayton; Dennis and Lorrie Emke Farm, Cherry Creek; Terry and Janet Rearick, Sinclairville; C and W Farm LLC, Darren Carlstrom, Sinclairville; Wheelhorse Farm, Diana and Don Saxton, Ripley; MereFam Farm, Mike and Judy Meredith and family, Sherman; Mansfield Dairy Farm, Cherry Creek; Ormond Farm, Tom, Joyce, Lonny and Robin Ormond and family, Kennedy; Dunnewold Farms, Clymer; Holthouse Dairy, Panama; Findley Lake Dairy LLC, Findley Lake; Schwab’s Dairy Farm, Clymer.

Notable multiple-year winners of the award include: Terry and Janet Rearick Family Farm, 10-year winners; Dennis and Lorrie Emke Farm, 10-year winners; and Dennis and Lona Carlberg Farm, 15-year winners.


Recently, the Northeast Dairy Farm Beautification Program named two new Chautauqua County farms as winners of the Dairy of Distinction Award.

Schwab’s Dairy Farm, based in Clymer, and Findley Lake Dairy, LLC, based in Findley Lake, were the two newest farms in the county to be honored with the award. Both farms sent representatives to the most recent Chautauqua County Dairy Princess Pageant and Dairy of Distinction Awards ceremony to accept the award.

“We’ve really always just tried to put out a quality product with our milk and we’ve always strived to continually run a quality operation,” said Brian Jantzi, Findley Lake Dairy Farm LLC employee. “It’s really nice to win such a distinguishing award. It’s nice to see how all the hard work inside the barns is reflected and recognized as a quality product on the outside.”

According to Jantzi, Findley Lake Dairy Farm LLC keeps a farm with 1,300 total cattle: 600 dairy cows, 100 dry cows and 600 young stock. The farm allocates 1,700 acres for growing corn and another 900 acres for growing hay.


The qualifications a farm must meet in order to obtain the Dairy of Distinction award could be considered rigorous at the very least. Farms are graded on a 100-point scale, where 90 points is the lowest point total allowed to qualify for the award. To give some perspective, 65 points out of 100 is the success/failure rate for most standardized tests, with 85 points out of 100 being considered mastery.

Farms are graded by three judges on a number of aspects broken up into three different fields. Those aspects include: in the field of buildings, clean and attractively finished, 10 points; physical condition, 10 points; and uniform appearance, five points. In the field of grounds and surroundings, landscaping, 10 points; roads and lanes, five points; fences, five points; and ditches, five points. In the field of farm operations, animals, five points; barnyard, 10 points; cleanliness of roads, five points; manure handling, five points; machinery, five points; pollution, 10 points; feed areas, five points; and unnecessary items, five points.

After the receiving an official Dairy of Distinction award, winning farms are required to maintain their farms to satisfactory Dairy of Distinction levels, otherwise farms are revoked of the distinction. Winning farms are subject to yearly roadside inspections by the Northeast Dairy Farm Beautification Program.


While having 31 farms in Chautauqua County which have earned the Dairy of Distinction award is outstanding, those farms are only a plurality of the farms in the state who have earned the honor.

“There are currently over 600 Dairy of Distinction Farms in New York state,” said Nancy Putman, New York state secretary for the Northeast Dairy Farm Beautification Program. “The organization operates on the state level through a board of director, who oversee, give guidance and support to local committees in the 10 state districts. The local committees are responsible for local publicity of the Dairy of Distinction program as well as judging the farms in their district and awarding the signs. Farms that qualify as Dairy of Distinction are awarded a Dairy of Distinction sign that they are to display by the roadside. New signs are awarded at 10, 15, 20 and 25 years. We are looking forward to the program’s 30-year milestone in 2014.”