March 26, 2022 at 8:23 p.m.

Thompson joins MLBA Hall of Fame

Recognition is for a lifetime of industry service
Dave Thompson stands in his yard at his dairy farm March 17 near Starbuck, Minnesota. Thompson is a 2022 Minnesota Livestock Breeders’ Association Hall of Fame inductee and retired dairy farmer. PHOTO BY GRACE JEURISSEN
Dave Thompson stands in his yard at his dairy farm March 17 near Starbuck, Minnesota. Thompson is a 2022 Minnesota Livestock Breeders’ Association Hall of Fame inductee and retired dairy farmer. PHOTO BY GRACE JEURISSEN

By Grace [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

STARBUCK, Minn. – Sometimes a very inconsequential event turns out to be very monumental. This was how Dave Thompson, a retired dairyman, started his acceptance speech for his induction into the Minnesota Livestock Breeders’ Association Hall of Fame March 10.
Thompson and his wife, Dawn, milked 80 cows and farm 800 acres in Starbuck.
For the last 88 years, the MLBA has inducted outstanding members of the livestock industry, and this year, Thompson was the 194th inductee to the organization’s hall of fame.
“Getting recognized is something you don’t expect,” Thompson said. “It is nice to know people appreciate and recognize the things you have done over the years.”
Thompson’s inconsequential event that preempted his success in the dairy industry was his freshman agriculture class.
It was during this class that he was first introduced to the concept of dairy cattle evaluation and judging. From his involvement in 4-H and FFA, his dairy judging career continued, and he became involved in the University of Minnesota Dairy Cattle Judging Team.
During Thompson’s time on the collegiate dairy judging team, he was the high individual in four breeds at  national contests.
 In 1971, he received a National Dairy Shrine award as a senior in dairy science at the University of Minnesota.
Thompson was a Meeker County extension agent for three years before returning to his family farm. He became involved in different aspects of the dairy industry by working with youth judging teams, the American Dairy Association and the Dairy Herd Improvement Association, among others.
“Over the years, I’ve judged at over 30 county fairs and was the official judge for the state fair FFA dairy judging contest for at least a half a dozen years,” Thompson said.
In the 1980s, Thompson and Dawn were first and second place, respectively, in the national Hoard’s Dairyman Cow Judging Contest which had more than 100,000 entries.
This will be the 59th year Thompson has judged the contest.
Being a dairy farmer, Thompson was always busy.
“I used to tell non-farm people that I always work a 40-hour week,” Thompson said. “Then, I pause and say that usually gets me through Wednesday.”
Thompson was involved in the Minnesota American Dairy Association for 20 years and served 10 years as the state ADA president from 1985-95.
Thompson said one of his favorite events was the 10-year run of “Dairy Nite at the Dome.” This event happened at the former Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and highlighted how important dairy is to athletes and the community.
 While in the ADA, Thompson helped facilitate the construction of the malt stand at the Minnesota State Fair in 1994. Thompson said the malt stand draws thousands of people to its front each year.
“The dairy industry was one of the first commodities to realize the importance of advertising products,” Thompson said. “After dairy started pushing promotion, many commodities followed suit.”
Thompson never missed a morning milking when he had a meeting with the ADA. He said he would usually get up at 4 a.m. to make sure milking was finished before driving to meetings.
“When you are dairy farming, you don’t own the cows,” Thompson said. “The cows own you.”
Thompson milked for more than 40 years and remembers the first time he did chores by himself.
“I started milking when I was 10, but I didn’t milk by myself until I was 12,” Thompson said. “I remember Dad was busy in the field, so I thought I may as well get started. I ended up doing all the milking by myself.”
With years of milking cows and judging shows under his belt, Thompson developed an eye for choosing dairy cattle.
“I like a cow that is functional, can live a long time and has some show appeal to them,” Thompson said.
One of Thompson’s fondest memories was watching his five daughters lead their Thompson Acres dairy cattle around the show ring and seeing them do well.
Thompson’s herd had more than 50 cows classify as Excellent. His cows were one of the top 100 herds in the nation four times with a breed age average of 110.7% on his final classification with 100% homebred animals. He received eight Progressive Breeders Registry awards from the Holstein Association. He also sold more than a dozen bulls to stud.
While away at fairs, in the field or at an ADA meeting, Thompson recalls plenty of occasions when he spent evenings fixing equipment or solving problems at the farm after returning home.  It’s just one of the challenges of farming.
“It’s a jigsaw puzzle, and you can’t go to bed until you get it put together,” he said.
With his herd now gone from the farm, Thompson continues to be involved in agriculture. Thompson houses a few heifers in the summertime, grows a large garden and serves on the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company Board, currently in his ninth year as board chairman.


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