John is the owner of Helmer Dairy Farm LLC which consists of 85 head of registered Holsteins and 90 head of youngstock. He farms 250 acres of mostly red clay, raising corn, beans, and alfalfa. The farm is in Sheboygan County and was established in 1853. It is now operated by John, his wife, Lynn, and son, Andy, who will be the seventh generation. They also receive help from John's parents, Bill and Judy, and his daughter, Erica who is involved in the dairy industry.
Being a member of Sheboygan River Progressive Farmers (SRPF) has given John the chance to meet several people doing different practices to learn from. He understands that there are always things that don't turn out like expected, but that's how everyone learns. There are many different people who helped John along the way. When he started manure storage plans and other land practices, David Clappes from Sheboygan County Land Conservation was a huge asset and great person to work with. In 2015, the farm installed a manure storage system. In 2016, they put in buffer strips, grass waterways, water diversion, along with a feed pad, machinery and cattle lanes which all helped water quality greatly.
Advice he would give other farmers looking to start a new practice is to surround yourself with people who have tried different things and take advice from them. John feels they have always been trying to incorporate practices that benefit the land along with the farm business.
John feels the chance to talk to fellow farmers about the success and failures and different ideas is probably one of the best things about SRPF. He says you must be sustainable in all aspects of your operation to be successful and always try to make things better for the future generations.