Integrity, hard work keep Foss Dairy growing

Written by Emily Battmer

The philosophy guiding Edwin Foss Dairy is simple: Work hard and be fair.

With 475 milking cows and 700 acres of silage and hay, Curtis Foss says the Gill, Colo., dairy started by his father has remained a small, family operation. And he believes that hard work and integrity is what has kept their business afloat.

Foss shares the responsibilities at the dairy with his wife, his brothers and their wives, and their father, who started dairying after growing up on the farm Foss’ grandfather started with 15 cows.

The whole family pitches in where needed, and Foss says he considers himself a “jack-of-all-trades and master of none.”

“Everybody has to know how to do everything,” he says. “You’ve got to be ready to milk cows in the morning if somebody doesn’t show up, and then be able to go out and harvest all day.”
While the Foss family supplements their hay and silage with purchased feed, Foss says the dairy is focused on growing their farming operation and raising their own heifers. They expand their acreage whenever the opportunity arises to make their business sustainable.

The growing focus on the farming side of the operation has increased the workload for the Foss family and their eight full-time employees, but for Foss, all of that hard work is one of the benefits of the job.

“With the farming and the dairy together, it’s kind of hard to get any downtime, and when you’re living on the farm, you’re working at the farm all the time,” he says. “But you always have something to do every day, and there’s never a dull moment. It’s one of the perks of being on the dairy.”

Foss’ work ethic and positive outlook is a reflection of his upbringing. As soon as he could start working, he was on the dairy, and has been dairying full time since graduating from high school. His dedicated spirit has served him and the farm well. Even after a recent knee replacement surgery, Foss says he was back in the barn and in the fields as soon as he was able.
His value of hard work is one he shares with the rest of the partners at Foss Dairy, along with a belief that it is important to always be fair and honest. 

“Whether it’s the employees or your neighbor, be straight with everybody,” Foss says. “We use [that principle] every day. You’ve just got to be straightforward with everybody involved in your operation.”

Foss says the dairy’s value of integrity, along with the Foss family’s commitment to their cows and their business, has helped Foss Dairy maintain its positive reputation as a friendly and considerate neighbor.

“We’re still considered the small guy, but we do have a lot of bigger dairies around us, and it all comes down to how you deal with your neighbors,” he says. “Whether you’re a big dairy or a little guy, dealing with water issues or whatever it may be, give your word and follow through. Don’t say one thing and do something else.”

Through his hard work and genuine interactions with everyone he works with, Foss says he hopes he can help neighbors, and other consumers, understand that dairy farmers work hard to support their families and get wholesome, nutritious dairy to consumers’ tables. 

“So much work is involved in getting a glass of milk, a cup of yogurt or a slice of cheese to the table, and milk doesn’t just grow on the shelf,” Foss says. “We’re just one of the many doing that, and trying to survive.”