Rural Missouri - May 2017 - 24
On the Wright path
Verona family lives and breathes the life they love
Dairy farmer Jodi Wright is quick to point out she's only part of the successful team on her family farm in Verona. She and her husband, Larry, were both raised in dairy farming families.
by Heather Berry | firstname.lastname@example.org
Their farm carries on the Wrightvale preﬁx when registering their Holsteins as Larry's family did all those years ago.
"Most Holstein farms around here don't register their entire herd,"
he hauler hooks the hose to the bulk tank in the barn. As
says Jodi, 46. "Anyone can milk cows twice a day, but for us, having
the milk pumps into the silver tanker, he and dairy owner
our cows is about us helping to improve the genetics of the breed
Jodi Wright catch up on any local news. Then he's off to pick
we love and improving the line. That's why we're members of the
up more milk from a nearby farm.
Missouri Holstein Association and why we register our cattle."
Jodi comes out of the small dairy barn and looks across the
Over the years, Jodi has served as secretary/treasurer for the
spring-green pasture toward the blacktop. It's obvious something
statewide dairy association and was eventually asked to serve
he mentioned weighs on her mind.
as the executive director, a position she still holds.
"He told me some dairy farmers down the road just called it quits
"Between morning and evening milking, this is a lot of what I
today," Jodi says, obviously shocked by the news. It's news a farmer
do," says Jodi of the paid position. She manages the association's
never hopes to hear in this area where most neighbors also are dairy farmers.
Not a week ago, Jodi's husband, Larry, had been in Wisconsin at the liquida- cattle sales, statewide conventions, district and state shows, farm ﬁeld days,
publishes newsletters and maintains a website she designed. Jodi also suppletion sale of a dairy farm where yet another couple had thrown in the towel.
"This couple probably had another 20 years of dairying in them, but they just ments the family income through her home-based print advertising and website
couldn't take it anymore," said Larry. "It's tough competing with the 1,000-cow design business.
"When that's done, I work on like farm bookkeeping, pay the bills, register
dairies if you're a small dairy farm like they were. Heck, like we are, too."
Larry and Jodi own Wrightvale Farm, a 120-acre Holstein dairy farm in Vero- the cattle and any other ofﬁce work and home stuff that needs done," she says.
When Larry's not helping with the daily milking, he can likely be found farmna. Both Larry and Jodi grew up in dairy, so it's always been part of their lives.
Larry's parents, George and Betty Wright of Clever, ran the original Wrightvale ing an additional 260 acres of land where the couple raises the alfalfa hay, grass
Dairy Farm for more than 60 years, marketing award-winning registered Hol- and corn needed for silage to feed their herd. That's no small feat for a farm
steins to buyers across the nation. Jodi grew up in Colorado where her parents, running without any hired hands.
The couple also somehow ﬁnds the time to mentor high school teens who
Lorence and Verla Raim, also bred champion registered Holsteins at Raim Dairy.
After college, Larry went back to work on the family farm. When Jodi gradu- they hope will become future ag leaders. Jodi serves as a Greene County 4-H
ated college in Colorado, she went to work for Holstein Association USA, serving Club leader and helps prepare them on their general knowledge of cattle, makas a liaison between the organization's Vermont headquarters and breeders in ing sure they're prepared to show on local and state levels. Larry also coaches
Missouri. That job led her to Larry's farm, where the two met. Married since the FFA team, teaching them what to look for when judging the cattle. Their
1997, the couple have a daughter, Lora, 17, and a son, Blake, 15, who help with daughter and son, Lora and Blake, are both in 4-H and FFA and compete on
state and national levels. That said, neither knows if they'll choose dairy farmdairy duties before and after school.
"We milk twice a day - 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.," says Larry, 58, adding the fam- ing as a career path.
"We don't demand that our kids grow up and come back to the farm to live
ily has only been at their Verona farm four years. Prior to that, they worked the
herd at his parent's farm in Clever, while at the same time starting their own and work," says Larry. "People used to pass farms down to the next generation
and it was expected they'd take things over eventually; end of story. These days,
registered Holstein herd.
that's not realistic."
Jodi nods in agreement, then adds, "You have to love it - whatever you
choose for a career. Farming is a hard life. It's not for everybody."
There are variables which are beyond their control, making the career path
difﬁcult at times. In the case of a dairy farmer, the volatility of milk prices makes
it difﬁcult to budget for other farm expenses. Add to that fact that
feed, fuel, fertilizer, grain and insurance coverage for both the
farm and family most likely will go up, and proﬁts may be
slim to none.
Larry tosses the paper he's been rolling into a tight cylinder onto the table.
Left: While not many calves are bottle fed, a few get some extra
TLC from the family each afternoon. Right: The Wright's herd of 60
Holsteins produce an average of 8 gallons of milk per cow each day.
They've also produced quite a few grand champion cattle which Lora
and Blake have shown at the Missouri State Fair.