Fifth Generational Farmer: Upbringing

Contributed by Gianna Azevedo | Third Year | Agricultural Communications

For as long as I can remember, dairy farming has been a major aspect of my life. I was born and raised in the small town of Gustine, California. Located in the heart of the Central Valley, the number of cows exceeds the population of people. While this says a lot about the town, it has a greater meaning to me.

Rooted Agriculture

When I think of agriculture, I think of my grandfather and my dad farming all hours of the day, whether they are milking cows or driving tractors. Looking back on my family's involvement in the agricultural industry, I understand the time put in on the dairy farm and the history of how our family got here. My great-grandfather immigrated to California when he was just sixteen years old. He dreamt of a better life for himself and his family. In 1917, my great grandfather had just gotten to Gustine and had bought a piece of land for $1700, which would be the foundation for all that was yet to come. My great grandfather decided to buy a few cows, milk them, and earn a dollar a day to make a better living. While his family expanded, his son took an interest in the dairy cows and wanted to become involved. This is where my grandfather's dairy farming roots begin. My grandfather started helping around the dairy when he was just ten years old and he owned a single cow, which he milked every day before and after school. Ever since then, he has been shipping milk for the last 65 years.

A pivotal point for my grandfather was in the year 1971 when he purchased the original land my great grandfather had settled on. My grandfather built a larger dairy facility on this land. After the rebuilding, he moved in 100 cows, but his cow operation kept growing each year and began outgrowing the facility. In 1999, it was time for a new facility. In this year, my grandfather had attained up to milking 700 cows. He built the dairy up on his own from one cow to 700 within a couple of decades. My grandfather and my father would buy surrounding land as it would become available, owning up to 650 acres of land for dairy facility needs and field crops. The next decade brought many more obstacles but also had many more successes.

Withstanding the Test of Time

Being a self-sufficient family-run dairy, we try to be as prepared as possible for various industry issues, as we farm our own alfalfa, corn, and oats. Cyclically, all these crops go right back into the cows and then back into the land. Currently, my grandfather has a herd of 2000 cows, where a thousand cows are milked a day. However, this large level of production success has come with many challenges. Some challenges include an oversupply of milk production, low milk prices, high feed costs, labor shortages, and recently the global pandemic. To withstand these issues the family-owned business has developed strategies to overcome each obstacle by adjusting to the situation accordingly, consulting with bankers, and farm advisors.

The Azevedo dairy is one of the longest standing dairies in Gustine. The dairy dates back over 100 years old. This land not only represents the dairy farm but exhibits the strong values that it was built on. My family takes pride in our upbringing and what the future has to hold for the dairy farm and our involvement in the agricultural industry.