Dairy leader makes the food industry's case

Mike McClosekyKudos to Mike McCloskey, founder of Fair Oaks Farm and a mover and shaker in multiple dairy processing organizations. His Indiana farm is the focus of a recent national story spotlighting a waste-to-energy project that converts manure from 30,000 milking cows into compressed natural gas to power the 42 tanker trucks that move his milk to market.

Fair Oaks is nestled on the west side of Interstate 65, barely an hour’s drive South from Chicago. If Mike was a Chicagoan, people would say he has clout—the ability to make things happen, one way or another. An example of his clout are the on-off ramps he prevailed upon the interstate highway commission to build a few years back to make it easy for city slickers to visit Fair Oaks. The farm isn’t just a high-tech dairy: it’s also a tourist attraction that’s been called the Disneyland of Dairy. Families arrive by the busload to watch artisanal cheese being made and calves being born on schedule (a pitocin drip keeps some of the cows on schedule for their birthing room appearance).

Separating the townies from a few coins isn’t the point of Fair Oaks. It’s mission is educational, Mr. M knows that if the food industry doesn’t tell its own story, someone else will tell it for them—and the perspective won’t be sympathetic.

While the industry’s old guard throws millions into campaigns to hide GMOs, Mike is telling 150,000 visitors a year how GMO corn helps reduce the amount of insecticides and other farming aids. Does everyone leave Fair Oaks with a positive impression of industrial farming? Of course not, but the vast majority do, and they all have a better understanding of why the industry does what it does.