A HAPPY FAMILY — The Jordan Haak family enjoy a walk in the trees on their Van Belle Road home with some popsicles. Left to right are Regan, 7, Jordan, Claire, 9, Sloane, 4, wife Lissa, and son Graham, 3.

SUNNYSIDE — Working on a dairy that is media shy makes it hard for Jordan Haak to expound on the good work his place of business does, but it doesn’t keep him from having an opinion the entire industry.

“My bosses want to stay out of the media whether positive or negative and keep a low profile,” the longtime Yakima Valley native said.

“I work in general management at a lower valley dairy and would prefer not to say which, but I do want to talk about the value of dairy industry in the valley, something I know about firsthand,” Haak stressed.

A lot of dairymen don’t want to talk with press, Haak explained, adding “A lot of the press we get is negative so few dairymen particularly like the media,” he said.

Nonetheless Haak believes the public needs to know that the dairy industry provides huge benefit economically to local communities.

“Besides working with animals and people is rewarding,” the second-generation dairyman said proudly.

The Yakima Valley dairy industry is one of the largest dairy-production areas in the nation with 55 dairies and more than 110,000 cows residing on local farms adding to the 6,650 billion pounds of milk produced in Washington State, according to the 2016 records kept by the Dairy Farmers of Washington. Statewide there are almost 400 dairies and 275,000 primarily in the Central and Northwestern Washington, accounting for making the state a national leader in milk yields.

The trickle-down economic benefits from the dairy farmers includes the need for the services of irrigation companies, construction companies, the farm equipment dealerships and milking hauling services, all of which add millions more dollars to the local community, Haak noted.

“Those cows and dairies need a lot of services,” Haak said, including tons of feed, from corn silage, cotton, and alfalfa some which is grown locally and some which is shipped in from out of state and hauled to the farms.

“The large animal bovine veterinary services, ag-labs like Ag Health, to such companies as Orange Dairy Services, Orange, plus the location of Darigold Whey Plant in the community all contribute to the local economy,” Haak explained.

Processing and indirect economic effects boost the total value of dairy farming in Washington’s economic to an estimated $5.2 billion and more than 18,000 dairy-related jobs according to the state Dairy Federation statistics, Haak relayed.

Haak’s love of the dairy industry began as a boy on a dairy on Nichols Road in Outlook. With his three brothers saw his father worked for years on the family’s Snipes Mountain Dairy. “We had milking 2,100 cows,” Haak declared, adding the farm was considered a moderate size dairy at the time.

“I learned everything about handling dairy animals on my father’s farm along with my brothers,” he revealed.

“We were given the opportunity to work on the farm growing up and we did in the summer. But during the fall and winter, he allowed us to play sports rather than work the farm,” Haak explained.

Haak, a Seattle Pacific University graduate with a degree in business administration, said while he doesn’t have his own dairy, he enjoys working in the industry and meeting its daily challenges.

“I saw how hard my father worked on the farm and how hurt he was when groups sued his farm. The lawsuits eventually led to my dad selling his farm,” he said.

“Because of those experiences I, too, am a little leery of talking about the industry,” Haak said

“It takes a lot of money to start your own dairy, but maybe someday I’ll be able to have a few cows of my own,” he supposed.

“But in the meantime, it is a great business and I love working on the dairy and in my own way adding to the economy of the Yakima Valley,” he declared.

Julia Hart can be reached at 509-837-4500, ext. 123 or at jhart@sunnysidesun.com

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