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Rupert dairy wins Milk Quality Award

BOISE – Whitesides Dairy near Rupert has been awarded by the Idaho dairy industry for taking milk quality to an extremely high level.

The dairy received the Idaho dairy industry’s 2019 Milk Quality Award, which is presented during Dairy West’s annual November meeting, which attracts hundreds of dairy operators, their families and industry representatives.

The award is a way to celebrate the hard work and effort the state’s dairy operators put into ensuring their cows produce the highest quality milk, said Karianne Fallow, CEO of Dairy West, which represents Idaho and Utah dairy operators.

Quality milk is the result of good animal care, cleanliness and good stewardship on the dairy farm, Fallow said.

“All of the milk produced here is high quality,” she said. “The Milk Quality Award is designed to honor those dairy farmers that go the extra mile. As a result, their milk is of the very highest quality.”

Whitesides Dairy, which is operated by Steve and Derek Whitesides, was nominated by Dairy Farms of America and beat out 10 other finalists for the 2019 award.
“This is an incredibly competitive contest,” said University of Idaho dairy extension specialist Rick Norell, who manages the award for Dairy West. “It’s a tremendous tribute to the desire of dairy producers to produce high-quality milk for their customers.”

All of the state’s 425 dairy operations produce quality milk, he said, but the award recognizes dairies that take cleanliness and quality to the highest level.

The winner of the award is the cream of the crop when it comes to milk quality.

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.

Dairies are nominated by processors and the University of Idaho and Idaho State Department of Agriculture officials then compare the operations’ regular monthly quality tests.

Derek Whitesides, who is a partner with his father, Steve, said it was an honor for their dairy to be chosen to receive this year’s award.

“We spend a lot of time and energy, as I’m sure other dairy operators do, aiming for good, quality milk and we do a lot of things to try to make that happen,” he said. “That’s part of our business model – to produce good, quality milk.”

He said the real recipient of the award should be the employees that handle the day-to-day operations at Whitesides Dairy.

 “It is our employees who we really attribute our success to,” he said. “Everybody is really passionate about what we do here.”

Fallow said one of the unique things about the award is that dairies are nominated by the processors they sell to, “so it reinforces the importance of the partnership between the producers and processors.”