Local Farms Become Dairies Of Distinction

Two new farms have earned the Dairy of Distinction award in Chautauqua County.

Findley Lake Dairy Farm LLC and Schwab’s Dairy Farm of Clymer have both joined ranks with the 28 other Dairy of Distinction farms in the county, which represent the best of the local dairy industry.

Established in 1983, the Northeast Dairy Farm Beautification Program recognizes the hard work and dedication of dairy owner and operators who have attractive, well-kept farms and promote a good dairy industry image. All active dairy farms in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont are eligible to apply for the Dairy of Distinction award.

Findley Lake Dairy LLC, owned by Ray Martin, is a 675 milk cow farm with 12 full-time employees. Martin credits his employees and their hard work for the farm’s Dairy of Distinction award.

“In the beginning, I was fortunate to buy a really good farm,” said Martin. “The workforce that is here now was already in place when we bought the dairy. The previous owner of the diary lived in Texas and the employees were basically running it without him, even though he was available by telephone. Quite frankly, we bought the dairy for the people.”

Due to Findley Lake Dairy LLC’s proximity to the village of Findley Lake, Martin said it is very important to maintain a good appearance for the farm in addition to maintaining a quality product.

“We want to be a good community citizen,” said Martin. “Having a dairy of this size right next to a little resort community does present its own challenges. We love being here, and it’s a great place to have a dairy, but it’s different than having a farm down a country road. We want that community to know we care and are proud to be in the area, so we do whatever we can to convey that.”

Along with Martin serving as the farm’s owner, the farm is operated by Steve Swan, farm manager, Annette Swan, calf manager and Brian Jantzi, herd manager. Both Steve Swan and Jantzi have been with the farm for seven years and Annette will celebrate her fourth anniversary with the farm in August.

Schwab’s Dairy Farm is a smaller operation by comparison, with 110 milk cows and a focus on family involvement. The farm is run by Dave and Dorey Schwab, with lots of help from daughters Cady and Jenna. Cady recently graduated from SUNY Morrisville with an associate degree in animal sciences. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA and rises at 5 a.m. every morning to milk the cows.

Dave has been operating the farm since 1982, where he started with only a handful of cows. In that time, he has built two additional barns and has created a successful farm he would like to pass down to his daughter someday.

Although it is likely he could have earned Dairy of Distinction awards earlier, he applied for the first time this year and won the award immediately.

“Being on a main road close to Peek’n Peak and Findley Lake, there’s a lot of out-of-state traffic,” said Dave. “It gives the farming industry a good name and reputation if you keep a clean farm. It gives the general public some piece of mind when they can see that their food is coming from farms that work hard to keep a (tidy) appearance.”