An aerial photo shows the Miron family’s farm when they hosted a breakfast on the farm Sept. 7 as part of the Washington/Ramsey County Farm Bureau 100-year anniversary celebration. 
An aerial photo shows the Miron family’s farm when they hosted a breakfast on the farm Sept. 7 as part of the Washington/Ramsey County Farm Bureau 100-year anniversary celebration. PHOTO SUBMITTED

    HUGO, Minn. – For the Miron family, teaching is a part of farming.
    “Education is deeply rooted in our family,” Andrew Miron said. “We take a passion in showcasing that. A lot of it comes back to what we do on the farm and being able to show the public a little bit about what that is.”

    The Miron family will continue teaching others about dairy as the recipient of the 2019 Minnesota Milk Producer of the Year award. Fran and Mary Ann Miron farm together with two of their sons, Paul and Andrew; Paul and his wife, Kristy, have three kids, James, 5, Josephine, 3, and Joy, 11 months; Andrew and his wife, Stacey, have one son, Levi, 4 months. The Mirons milk 125 cows on their dairy in Washington County near Hugo.
    Fran and Mary Ann said an important part of making the farm what it is today are their four other children and their families who do not farm. All four are teachers, with three of them teaching agriculture. They include their son, Mike, his wife, Severine; their son, Mark, his wife, Wendy, and kids, Landon, 4, Carter, 2, and Autumn, 1; their daughter, Ann Tauzell, her husband, Brian and their kids, Warren, 6, and Amelia, 4; and their daughter Katie Crowley, her husband, Justin, and their daughter, Elizabeth, 2 months.  
    “It’s a wonderful recognition for us, but I think it just adds to the recognition of the importance of agriculture, and in particular dairy, to our community, our county and our state,” Fran said about receiving the award. “It’s really a privilege to be able to be part of that because of that broader recognition of the importance of farmers and dairy.”
    Urban sprawl from the Twin Cities metro area has grown the town of Hugo from about 3,000 people in 1989 to now nearly 16,000 people and decreased the number of farmers in the area, said Fran.
    “A lot of that [growth] is urbanites that are multiple generations removed from agriculture,” he said.
    That makes the teaching aspect of their dairy that much more important. Fran has been able to teach others while serving roles in local government for 30 years, including as the mayor of Hugo and during the last seven years while on the Washington County Board of Commissioners.
    Several members of the family are also involved in leadership roles with the Washington/Ramsey County Farm Bureau. On Sept. 7 as part of the county organization’s 100-year anniversary, the Mirons hosted a breakfast on the farm for just over 2,000 people in the community. The event allowed the Mirons to showcase what happens every day on a dairy farm.
    “People are interested but don’t know how to see what’s going on at a farm,” Andrew said. “They had that opportunity, and being able to share what we do with the community is an important thing for us, too.”
    The Mirons farm by the motto, “Caring for the family, livestock and the land for over a century,” which the family developed in 1987 when the farm celebrated a milestone as being in the family for 100 years. With the way the dairy economy has been the past few years, this has meant cautious investments, Fran said.
    “We have to be sure the investments we’re making really provide resources for quality animal care and for quality resource retention on the farm to make sure the farm is sustainable long into the future,” Fran said. “And that we’re not overextending ourselves.”
    Andrew has been able to secure two Livestock Investment Grants to help cover costs of recent farm upgrades. This year’s improvement project is converting their bedded pack barn into a freestall barn. The Mirons said they hope it will increase cow comfort, and improve milk quality and cow cleanliness. But bedding played a big role in the decision to covert the barn, especially the expense and the availability.
    “We bed a lot with corn stalks,” Fran said. “Last year was tough to get dry cornstalk bales made. This year, we don’t have corn acres to have cornstalk bales because we had 150 acres of prevent plant corn and we chopped most of our corn we were able to plant for forage.”
    To help alleviate these issues, the Mirons searched for alternatives. For the last three years, they have partnered with a landscaper who gives the Mirons leaves he has collected from lawncare maintenance. The Mirons use this as bedding in the fall to save on cost.
    Another way the Mirons alleviate cost on the dairy is working with the local food shelf and taking food past the best-by date to give to the youngstock. The family is also looking at working with a brewery in the future to use its spent brewers’ grain for feed.
    “I think we have to get creative at times with coming up with ways to help supplement the poor farm economy we’ve had,” Andrew said. “We do our best to find different ways in the  community to help better use resources.”
    When Fran and Mary Ann started farming in the mid 1970s, they never imagined being able to pass it onto their kids.
    “It (bringing in the next generation) creates challenges, but it’s also exciting because there are some things going on at the farm today that if there wasn’t another generation interested, we would not be doing it,” Fran said.
    Now transitioning the farm will be one of the next steps for their farm as Paul and Andrew work towards full ownership.
    “It would be hard for Paul and I to start an operation from scratch if we wanted to dairy farm,” Andrew said. “But the possibility to come back home to work and transition in really gives us an opportunity to do what we love. We couldn’t be more grateful for that.”
    Paul agreed.
    “I like being able to work every day with my brother,” Paul said. “The same with Mom and Dad. I like being able to work with them. Both parents have helped us in different ways, and we appreciate all they’ve done.”
    Fran and Mary Ann feel thankful they were able to teach their children a love and appreciation in agriculture.
    “It’s really neat to experience Paul and Andrew doing the same thing four generations before them have done,” Fran said. “We’ve always had dairy. So dairy has been the mainstay of our farm operation over all those generations.”
    And Paul and Andrew are ready to continue living the farm’s motto while teaching others in the community about agriculture in the process.