Another Marion County dairy calls it quits
The economy may be booming, but people in the ag industry are tightening their belts. For some, that isn’t enough to survive.
Kent and Amy Sterk of Goessel are sad to be selling their dairy cows after 22 years in business.
“Prices are too low and expenses too high to continue,” Kent said. “We haven’t shown a profit for three years.”
The 47-year-old Sterk grew up on a dairy farm in Washington that his father and a brother continue to operate. After Sterk’s marriage to Amy, he wanted his own operation, but it was too expensive to get started there.
Relatives in Iowa invited the couple to move there, where they worked in a dairy for four years.
“I wanted a place where I could graze cows,” he said, “so we bought this place in Kansas.”
He grew the dairy to 270 cows but has been gradually downsizing to 170.
The remaining cows will be sold Oct. 17 at an auction in Iowa. Sterk said dairy cows are still in demand there though their market value has fallen significantly.
“They’re half what they used to be,” he said.
The couple has three grown children and a younger son, Logan, who is a freshman in high school. Sterk said Logan mainly did the feeding and was paid for his work.
“It was a good summer and weekend job for him,” Sterk said.
He had five full-time employees. When they found out that he was quitting the dairy business, three of them “understandably” quit, he said, to take other jobs.
“I’m shorthanded now and haven’t had time to think about what I’ll do,” he said.
With a bit of sarcasm in his voice, he added, “I guess I’ll have to go work for a living.”
He is sad to see a lifetime of doing what he loved coming to an end.
“We weren’t intending to quit,” he said, “but we couldn’t pay the bills anymore.”
Last modified Oct. 10, 2018