More than 30 years ago, David Jackson leased a dairy and started milking 38 cows. Over the years, he has built his herd and acquired land to build what is now Bentwood Dairy in Waco, Texas, which was recognized as a DFA Member of Distinction in 2013. David and his wife, Jodi, stay busy on this diverse operation consisting of seven farms, 1,850 acres, 560 dairy cows, more than 600 heifers, a beef operation, crops for the dairy and a business selling coastal grass sprigs to help farmers seed pasture and waterway buffer strips.
His daughter, Emily, works for the Ohio Beef Council and his son, Connor, is studying agriculture business finance at Oklahoma State University. David serves on the board of directors for Dairy Max, a dairy promotion organization, and the Cross Country Water Supply Corp. He also serves as a delegate for DFA’s Southwest Area.
What encouraged you to take the first step in being more involved in DFA?
I wanted to get involved so I would have actual knowledge of what was going on in the co-op. I didn’t just want to be one of the complainers. From time to time, I have questions about why certain things happen, and because I’m involved, I am able to see why we do it.
You served previously on the Resolutions Committee. Why is that process important?
That is where the rubber meets the road. That is where every member has a chance to give input to the resolutions person. The resolutions person brings that idea to the resolutions meeting in each of the different Areas. It is discussed and taken to Kansas City and talked about again. Then, it is voted on by DFA’s voting delegates. Whether we want to support this change or that direction our Cooperative is going, the resolutions may be one of the most important parts of what DFA does. It gives members an opportunity to have input.
As you’ve learned more about the Cooperative, what has surprised you most?
I have always been kind of surprised by how people take cooperatives for granted and assume it is going to be there for us. One of the biggest blessings I had was when I decided to open my small dairy. The field representative came and said, “What can I do to help?” When I told him that I was going to start milking on a certain day, he said the milk truck will be there two days later. It was all in place for me.
In some countries like New Zealand, you are going to pay the co-op a very substantial amount of capital before you can even ship your milk. DFA takes a different approach. So when we look at co-ops retaining our equity for 12 years after we finish, as dairy farmers we have a debt that we have to repay. Somebody had already set that in motion long before I became a dairy farmer. So, basically, when I retire, it will take me 12 years to get my equity back, but I need to reciprocate the favor that was done for me 30 years ago.
Where do you think you honed your leadership skills?
We have some real leaders on the Dairy Max board. I’ve learned so much and have tremendous respect for them. When you look at agricultural people in general, we have a great deal of respect and trust in each other. When someone is talking, we all are listening. We don’t always agree and sometimes we get on different sides of the fence, but at the end of the day, I know that I really respect the people that I serve with.