By Sean Ellis
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
BOISE – Upon hearing he would be inducted into the Idaho Dairy Hall of Fame, Meridian dairyman Brent Jackson wasn’t sure he was deserving of the award.
His peers thought otherwise and Jackson was officially inducted into the Hall of Fame Nov. 8 in front of hundreds of other dairy families during Dairy West’s annual convention.
He was selected by a committee of other Idaho dairymen and members of the industry.
“It caught me by surprise,” Jackson said of the award. “My first reaction was, I wasn’t sure I was the right candidate. I was humbled when I heard. It’s a huge honor because I was selected by my peers.”
Dairy West CEO Karianne Fallow said the Hall of Fame “is our cornerstone award for a dairy farmer who has been an absolutely committed member of the dairy farmer community.”
Jackson, who grew up on a dairy and began milking cows when he was 6 years old, has served on numerous local and state industry boards and has received several milk quality awards. The Jackson Dairy was one of the first in the Treasure Valley to use artificial insemination.
“For some reason, I’ve always liked cows, so I was always attracted to the dairy industry,” he said.
Jackson said one of the highlights of his dairy career has been greatly improving the genetics of his herds.
“We have really improved the cattle that we have,” he said. “That’s where I’ve gotten my greatest satisfaction.”
During Dairy West’s two-day convention, the Erik Peterson Dairy in Filer was given the group’s annual Milk Quality Award.
The award has been presented annually since 1989 and is based on a dairy’s routine monthly tests for somatic cell counts, which are an indicator of quality, and bacteria counts, which reflect the cleanliness of cows and the facility.
Peterson said his operation has been producing high-quality milk for a lot of years, not just the past year, and his secret is that “we consistently do things the same way and we concentrate on the minute details. I’m constantly checking the small stuff.”
Dairy producers are nominated by processors and the University of Idaho and Idaho State Department of Agriculture officials then compare the nominated operations’ regular monthly quality tests.
Eleven finalists were chosen this year from among Idaho’s 490 dairy operations to compete for the award.
Fallow said all Idaho dairy operations produce high-quality milk but these finalists stand out in that category and the award is a way to showcase those operations that rise to the top.
“It goes without saying that all of our dairy farmers are absolutely committed to the quality of their product and to the care of their animals but these farmers are the crème of the crop,” she said.
During the Dairy West convention, long-time Idaho State Brand Inspector Larry Hayhurst, who retired April 1, was presented with a Friend of the Industry award.
His award bio noted that “he worked for 27 years protecting [dairy and beef] livestock owners across the state.”
Hayhurst said he was “extremely humbled and flattered” by the award. “It means a lot to me. It was a wonderful career. I enjoyed every minute of it. I don’t think anybody loves the Idaho livestock industry more than I do.”