Royal Farms Dairy, located near Garden Ciity is the recipient of this year's Kansas Distinguished Dairy award, presented annually to honor outstanding service to the industry by Kansas State University and Kansas Farmer magazine.
Majority partner Steve Irsik praised the employees of Royal Farms Dairy in his acceptance speech following the presentation of this year's award in Manhattan on March 15.
"Royal Dairy has 60 employees and 56 of them are Latino," Irsik said. "They are hard-working, family-oriented, good people."
Irsik called on members of the Kansas Dairy Association to work for "the election of legislators who will get immigration reform done."
Irsik also address what he termed the "business side" of Kansas's expanding dairy industry, saying that he believes there is strong opportunity for partnerships between grain farmers and dairy farmers that would benefit both.
Royal Farms Dairy is a western style, open-lot dairy located near Garden City. It consists of 6,400 milking cows and 7,000 replacement heifers and markets more than 13 million pounds of milk per month.
The operation focuses on five core values: Take great care of cows, take great care of people, control costs, execute on basic principles with perfection and operate with a high level of integrity and transparency.
One of the biggest challenges facing the dairy is water availability, so the operation is mindful of land stewardship and water conservation.
Water used to cool milk is collected and utilized to flush the milking parlor and holding pen. It is ten collected and utilized to fertilize and irrigate the cropland that provides feed for the dairy animals.
Royal Farms Dairy has been awarded the Kansas Banker's Association Environmental Stewardship Award and in 2010 was the first Kansas dairy to be selected as a World Dairy Expo virtual tour presenter in recognition of its conservation efforts and its leadership in economic and community development in the Garden City and Dodge City areas.
Irsik's partner in Royal Farmers Dairy is Kyle Averhoff, who joined the dairy as general manager in 2003. He and his wife Michelle live on the farm with their three children, Breck, Lexi and Cooper.
Averhoff grew up in the dairy business, working with his family on a 200-cow operation in Stephenville, Texas. He earned a bachelor's degree from Tarleton State University and a master's from the University of Florida.
Before joining Royal Farms, he worked for three years with Monsanto, working with dairymen in southern California and southwest Kansas.
Irisk is the Board Chairman of Royal Farms and his family is the majority partner. He is well-known in the area for a variety of entrepreneurial operations that include a farming operation, a cow/calf operation, a chain of grain elevators, and a custom cattle operation.
To read more about Royal Farms and the Distinguished Dairy award, be sure to watch for your April edition of Kansas Farmer.