Bruce Meinders’ dairy farm in Kossuth County is a success story sprouting from improbable roots.
At a time when most dairy farms were struggling to survive or selling off their herds, Meinders started dairying three years ago on the family Century Farm where there was no dairy facility or milking system.
Adding to the uniqueness of starting a dairy farm surrounded by miles and miles of corn and soybean fields, is that Meinders processes his own milk for retail sales from his on-farm creamery under the label of Meinders’ Farm Fresh Dairy. Products include milk, butter and several flavors of ice cream.
His Holsteins are milked by a robot that keeps a record of each cow’s production by sending it to a computer.
Another innovation is his use of custom-designed vending machines to sell milk and butter in towns that are not big enough to support a convenience store. There are currently seven vending machines in use.
The vending machine in nearby Rake is the one Meinders is watching to determine if selling milk by vending machine can be profitable. Rake, with a population of 200, represents the size of town Meinders believes he can serve while providing a service to the community.
The sales of his products at the Rake location will be used to determine levels of profitability for his vending machines.
Other towns that Meinders is considering as locations for his vending machines are Scarville and Leland.
Meinders is looking to expand his vending machine sales across the state line into Elmore, Minn., 663 population as of 2010.
“You can not buy a gallon of milk in Elmore,” said Bruce Meinders. “It does not have a grocery store or convenience store.”