Taking the necessary steps to a leadership role

Written by Heather Schofield

Jared Myers has a knack for stepping into a leadership role when the need is there and the time is right.

Raised on a farm and always expecting to follow this career, Myers just wasn’t sure when that would happen. After getting a business degree from Eastern Oregon University, he worked in the construction business in Atlanta, Ga., as a superintendent for a commercial contractor.

“I always had it in the back of my mind that I would return. It was important to leave for a while and get an education and see what else was out there,” Myers says. “I missed it when I was away. The things I did and learned … It helped.”

After more than five years in construction, he decided it was time to come home to New Plymouth, Idaho. His mother was sick and then passed away. His father had a lot to deal with, and Myers says, “It was now or never.”

Returning to the farm made Myers the third generation to own and operate it. He is the sole owner on paper but says his grandfather and father still have an interest in being around and “making sure it goes right.” Of his father, he says, “We still discuss a lot of things. He is still a partner in that respect.”

Since Myers’ return to the farm in 2005, the herd size has doubled to 600 cows and more growth is ahead, although he intends to take it slow. “I see us continuing to grow, maybe doubling again but not a whole lot more than that.”

The bigger change he is considering for his operation isn’t in size, but in technology.

“At some point, I would like to move to robotic milking,” he says. “I think that’s the future. I think the labor situation in this country is in pretty big trouble, and it’s only going to get worse.”

Before moving in this direction, Myers will have hurdles to overcome. Robotic milkers have not yet been approved by Idaho’s Department of Agriculture.

With little interest among dairy farmers in the state, regulators haven’t had much pressure to approve them. But this won’t stop Myers from pursuing it.

“I’ll keep moving forward on it. Hopefully, we’ll present them with something they will feel comfortable with,” he says.

Just like returning to the business, Myers knew when the time was right to step into a leadership role with DFA. His family had been members of DFA and a predecessor cooperative for years. Myers and his wife, Genny, learned even more about the dairy business and the Cooperative through the Young Cooperators (YC) program.

“I attended local YC meetings with my wife for a year or so and also got involved with the YC program of the National Milk Producers Federation,” he says.

Then a Mountain Area Council member approached him about running for her seat, a role he accepted in January 2013 after being voted into the position by his fellow members. Since then, he also has been part of the Emerging Leaders program.

“I guess I was a little naïve about how difficult a job it really is to find homes for our milk and to secure the best markets for our milk,” Myers says.

Being on the Area Council has given him a much better understanding of all the staff does to coordinate deliveries and negotiate the best contracts.

“It is a pretty complex and challenging task that I probably wasn’t aware of before,” he says.