Brothers Blaine and Kim Baker, operators of their family’s fifth-generation Bakerlads Farms in Lenawee County near Clayton, have been selected to receive Michigan State University’s Dairy Farmer of the Year Award.
Given by MSU’s Department of Animal Science, the award will be presented during the Dairy Industry Banquet Feb. 8 at the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference in Frankenmuth.
Bakerlads Farms includes a dairy herd of 540 Holsteins and 607 replacements, as well as acreage for crops, including corn, soybeans and alfalfa. The farm is Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MEAEP) verified in livestock, farmstead and cropping systems, and evaluated under the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management program for animal care.
Kim and Blaine formed their partnership in 1984 to continue the family dairy operation first established in the 1870s. They share responsibilities managing the milking herd and replacements. Kim has primary responsibility for employee management and machine maintenance; his wife Donna does the accounting. Blaine has primary responsibility for managing the cropping enterprise and record keeping.
The farm earned Michigan Farm Bureau’s Ecology Leadership Award in 2012.
Both brothers are active members of the Lenawee County Farm Bureau. Kim has served on the county board, Young Farmer, public policy and state and national affairs committees.
Blaine’s Farm Bureau resume is even more extensive, including stints as Lenawee County Farm Bureau president and service on a dozen different county and state-level committees, from policy development and candidate evaluation to the state feed grains advisory committee and MAEAP Legislation committees. He regularly represents Lenawee County as a delegate to MFB’s annual meeting and as a grass-roots lobbyist at the Lansing Legislative Seminar.
Blaine and Kim’s commitment to their farm, as well as their community and state, is exemplified by their service on various agriculture-related boards and committees, including the state Farm Services Agency Board which Blaine currently serves on. He is chair of the Soil and Water Conservation District Board, and Kim serves on the Lenawee County Holstein Board and the MSU Extension Dairy Advisory Team.
They have been recognized as Tel-Farm Managers of the Year, Lenawee County Conservation Farmers of the Year, and earned several milk-quality awards from Dairy Farmers of America.
The Bakers emphasize soil and water conservation in their dairy and crop operations. They are involved with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In addition to erosion control practices and updated waste storage facilities, no-till methods have been part of the operation since 2008.
Water management, water quality and effective drainage practices are key aspects of the Bakerlads operation. The farm incorporates two stage ditches, blind inlets, buffers along ditches and closed-loop nutrient recycling and does edge of field water sampling and applies fertilizer using variable rate technology.
The Bakers were key supporters in organizing the Lenawee County Center for Excellence. The Center for Excellence’s annual field day has been held at Bakerlads for 22 years, allowing producer research and development on new methods of production, with an eye on conservation.
“Bakerlads Farm is a well-respected farm that leads by example,” Pam Ruegg, chair of the Department of Animal Science, said. “It is with great pleasure that the MSU Department of Animal Science recognizes the Blaine and Kim Baker as the 2019 MSU Dairy Farmers of the Year.”
Blaine and his wife Barbara have a 29-year-old daughter; Kim and Donna have five children, ages 15 to 23.