Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
At Landview Farms agriculture is about more than land and crops...It’s a family’s heritage and their future.
644 acres in the Town of White Creek
Driving into White Creek on a snowy day can feel like you are inside a Grandma Moses painting. However, arriving at Landview Farms is a quick reminder that snow days are extra busy as farmer Mark Anderson tries to figure out where to put all that pretty snow. Most people think winter is a quiet time of year for the crop guy, but Mark tells us, “there is a living root in our ground 365 days a year. At the core of everything we do is building our soils and improving soil health. It is the basis of our business and we focus on improving it year round.”
Business partner and third generation dairy farmer, Randy Walker, jokes, “Mark is in charge of the outside and I take care of the inside.” Landview Farms is a family farm owned in partnership by Rody and Jane Walker, their son Randy, and Mark Anderson. Randy handles the dairy and staff, Mark oversees the crops, and Rody and Jane handle the business end of things. But the reality is that their success is built on a strong foundation of teamwork, deliberate planning and capitalizing on their skills.
The Walker Family started Landview Farms in White Creek in 1952 with a herd of 50 Brown Swiss cows. In 1966 they built the first free stall barn in the area, a move that was seen as highly progressive. Currently, they are milking a herd of 1,300 Holsteins and are one of the largest employers in the Town of White Creek.
Rody and Jane Walker, the 2nd generation, took over the business in 1982. Rody’s love for the outdoors and animals made farming a natural fit. In the early 90’s it became evident that their son Randy had an interest in continuing the family tradition of farming. At the same time, Mark was transitioning from working as a Cornell Cooperative Extension agent to join the business as well. “I really wasn’t 100% sure it was what I wanted to do,” Randy says. “But then I came home from college and it worked pretty well. Everyone got along and it was a good fit, so it seemed to make sense.” Rody and Jane needed a plan.
To capitalize on the opportunity while mitigating risks, they established an LLC. This required an initial investment for a major expansion of the herd and the construction of a new barn. The expense would be Rody and Jane’s alone, but with clearly outlined incentives for continued commitment from Mark and Randy. “We put all the financial equity in,” Rody says. “They put in sweat equity and became vested over ten years before they got anything out of it. The ten-year idea was so that the barn and cattle would already be paid for. If they’d decided to leave two or three years into it, there would have been more cattle than we wanted to handle at our age.” The business has flourished ever since.
Recent improvements include the construction of a new milking parlor to replace the one Rody and his father built in 1966. For the team at Landview, conserving the land was a big decision. The economic climate for dairy is tough. Milk prices have plunged. Conserving the land will not only ensure the land is protected for generations to come, but it will also ease the financial stress during these uncertain times. “We are working on planning for the future and trying to build a business that will attract the next generation. Thanks to ASA, we have peace of mind that the farm will be doing just that,” Randy says.
“We are working on planning for the future and trying to build a business that will attract the next generation.” – Randy Walker
Funding for this project was provided by New York State Environmental Protection Fund administered by the Department of Agriculture and Markets.