Q&A: Chris Kraft

Written by Marjie Knust

Chris Kraft
Badger Creek Dairy
Fort Morgan, Colo.

Milking 5,400 cows on two operations in Colorado, Chris Kraft and his wife, Mary, are heavily involved in all aspects of their business. Their hands-on approach to dairying is fueled by their passion for their animals, land and industry.

“I’ve never worked a day in my life,” Chris says. “When you love what you do, it never feels like work.”

A member of DFA’s Board of Directors since 2013, Chris’ passion for the dairy industry drives him to get involved beyond the Cooperative, in industry organizations such as Colorado Dairy Farmers, the state’s political action committee, and Western Dairy Association, as well as community initiatives including the Fort Morgan Reservoir and Irrigation Co. board and the Jackson Lake Board.

Why did you want to become a DFA Board director?

I wanted to learn more of the marketing side of the business — what happens after our milk leaves the farm. I always knew that the Cooperative had a huge job, but it’s so much more complex than you can imagine. It’s not as simple as picking up milk and delivering it to a plant. It’s getting the right milk to the right plant at the right time and with the right quality. It’s a big responsibility because as farmers, we have obligations to produce high-quality milk for DFA, and DFA has an obligation to give our customers what they need, as well as get milk to our own plants. Our customers then have obligations, and need a reliable supply chain to be successful. That’s our responsibility as farmers and as a Cooperative.

What do you think is the biggest opportunity for DFA?

I’m very excited about where our Cooperative is going on a number of fronts, because we have the opportunity to help our farmer families grow their businesses. DFA has a culture of being honest, open, fair and transparent. That’s a big deal for farmers, and I think that’s an attractive trait in a cooperative. Right now, we are seeing opportunities in foreign markets. A lot is happening that is positive for U.S. dairy — economies in other countries like Africa, China and South America are still experiencing long-term growth, even though they are a little slow now. There is also unprecedented access to information for consumers in those countries. As their incomes are growing, they are researching what to feed their families, and finding dairy as a positive option. God made milk to grow babies.

How does the Board work with DFA management to make decisions?

We’re talking all the time — every day at various levels of leadership in different ways. It might just be an email from our chief operating officer about how the markets or an industry trend is affecting local marketing issues, or there’s a member who has a concern who needs some advice.

As a Board, we have a formalized process with meetings and calls to discuss the business, and we also have various committees focused on specific facets of the business such as global trade, fluid milk or government affairs. We get into more details in those committees, then bring issues before the whole Board.

The farmer-leadership of DFA takes its job very seriously. We work hard every day.