Saving Dreams, Saving Lives
Mount Vernon, WA
Dairy Focus Consultant: Mark Harting
Keeping the family business and passion for dairy alive
Using trusted partners to help transition
Trading roles and taking on new ones in the community
Like many farm families, farming runs deep in the Vander Kooys’ bloodlines. Brothers Jason and Eric Vander Kooy are two of 12 siblings who all grew up on their family’s dairy, Harmony Dairy, in Northwest Washington.
The brothers’ passion and interest for the dairy industry blossomed during their youth because of a personal hero, their father. Both brothers agree that their dad played the most influential role in sparking their love for the industry by encouraging them to keep learning and doing. When their father became ill ten years ago, they decided to transition the farm into their names. This was new territory for the family and the brothers sought out assistance from trusted partners—something they learned from their father—to get the job done. One key partner in particular became their Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant, Mark Harting.
“Mark really helped us when it came time to transition the farm. Aside from analyzing data, diets, and other day-to-day challenges, he has and continues to act as a sounding board for us,” Jason shared. Specifically, during the start of the transition when he connected us with an accountant to get everything started.”
Jason and Eric both explained that they would not have gotten through the transition years ago had it not been for Mark. He was a resource of information and if he didn’t know something, he did everything in his power to find the answer or resource.
“Mark gave us the steps to take. He almost acted like our therapist, which I kind of needed,” Eric joked. “He listened to our questions and concerns about the transition. We were overwhelmed, but he made our dreams a reality.”
The strong support of trusted partners not only helped them accomplish their dairy dreams, but it also gave the brothers time to pursue other callings, like supporting their community.
“Eric and Jason are very dedicated to the dairy industry and their community. They display this dedication daily by being great ambassadors for the dairy industry and always quick to assist local residents in their time of need,” shared Mark.
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that both brothers are considered heroes off the farm too. Jason and Eric are firefighters and trained medics at the Skagit County Fire District #2 – Mc Lean Road Fire Department. Just recently, Jason and Eric have literally saved two lives—one a vegetable farm worker and the other a child caught in a river clinging to a piling.
Volunteering for the local fire department often means dropping what they are doing to help fight fires and respond to EMT calls. Mark believes this dedication has helped them to thrive through the many challenges that they have faced due to the reality of dairy economics and transfer of dairy ownership.
Another trusted partner of Harmony Dairy is Dr. Jennifer Trout, Cargill Calf and Heifer Technical Pro. Only working with the farm for a year, she too recognizes the Vander Kooy’s passion for dairy farming and community.
“They take a genuine, sincere interest in their employees and vendors, like myself, who work with them to achieve their goals,” said Jennifer. “Both brothers take pride in serving their community as both dairy farmers and firefighters.”
Cargill is proud to be a trusted partner and support the Vander Kooy’s in the amazing things they are doing to feed the world and support their community.