Relocating an entire herd and a family to Saskatchewan was just the start for dairy farmers Michael and Jessica Lovich. Every day is a new adventure raising a family on a dairy farm, but for the Loviches, each day provides a new opportunity to share their story. As the 2021 Saskatchewan Outstanding Young Farmers, they understand the important role they play in the dairy industry going forward.
Having both grown up on Alberta dairy farms, Jessica explained the dairy industry is nothing new to the couple. "All of us are dairy farmers," she said. "I met Michael just shortly after high school, and that's where it all started."
Both attended Lakeland College, with Michael receiving a diploma in Livestock Production and Jessica a diploma in Animal Health.
After farming with family in Alberta for eight years, the Loviches saw an opportunity to start a dairy operation of their own near Balgonie, Sask. "We have been at this location for six years now," Michael said. "It's just the two of us and our three children on the farm. Sometimes they like it, sometimes not so much ... but at the end of the day, everyone works together as a team."
Operating under the name Lovholm Holsteins, they run a dairy operation that focuses on animal welfare, longevity and sustainability. "We currently milk 70 Holstein cows and have roughly 225 cows on the farm with calves, heifers and some beef cattle," Michael shared.
Healthy cows and animal longevity is at the forefront of everything the couple does. "We strive to produce healthy cows that produce high-quality milk," Michael said, with the cows' safety and well-being at the forefront of all the decisions on their farm.
Like many things in agriculture, the dairy industry is constantly changing and adapting as new research becomes available. "We are always looking to the future," Jessica said. "Trying new crop practices and things with the cows for health traits; things like using less antibiotics or less chemicals when we can, we are trying to stay as sustainable as possible," Jessica said.
As the winners of the 2021 Saskatchewan Outstanding Young Farmer award, the Loviches know the significance of sharing their story with consumers. The family has hosted a number of visitors, some travelling from as far as Switzerland. Jessica emphasizes the importance of being able to share with visitors "what we do, where their food comes from and to see agriculture in general."
They both believe it's important consumers know the backstory of where their food comes from. As Jessica said, "It's a give and take; we need consumers to buy our products, so we expect consumers to have questions about our practices, and we are open to sharing that with them."
The Loviches received their farming award on June 22, 2021, at Mosaic Stadium. As part of the Outstanding Young Farmer process, they had to give a presentation about their farm and answer a set of questions from a panel of judges. They will now compete at the national event on November 30, 2021.
"Going through this process, you have to look back at where you came from," Jessica said. "The purpose of this program is to develop young farmers moving forward. Looking back at where we were six years ago, we have made huge progress. We are becoming more and more sustainable and prepared for the future."
"We are very honoured to receive the award," Michael said. "We've gotten to meet some real down-to-earth people who have a passion for farming."
Congratulations to Michael and Jessica Lovich on receiving the 2021 Saskatchewan Outstanding Young Farmer award!