Thursday, April 16, 2015

I Am Indiana Agriculture: Tom Landrum

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Tom Landrum is a Dairy Farm Supervisor for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH). The third-generation dairy farmer resides on the family farm in Dearborn County.  The farm was purchased in 1916 by Tom’s grandfather.  “We milked cows up until 1990 when a tornado destroyed seven barns.  Since then, I have kept dry cows (a cow that isn’t lactating) and heifers on my farm while another dairy farmer milks the lactating cows.  My wife, Judy, has been a part of the farm operation since we married in 1979.  Judy drives tractors and helps manage the operation.  I have shown our Registered Milking Shorthorns at state, regional, and national shows since 1956.  I worked at Farm Credit Services for 30 years. After retiring from Farm Credit Services, I began working for BOAH in 2007 as the state farm supervisor.”

Tom Landrum (center) was recognized for his service to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and the citizens of the state by Board Chairman Lawrence Stauffer, DVM (left) and State Veterinarian Bret D. Marsh, DVM (right).

Each Grade A dairy farm must be inspected by BOAH at least twice annually to check for compliance with state and federal regulations to produce milk for public consumption.  The division has 11 dairy inspectors who regularly visit each farm for compliance.  This involves evaluating cow care, equipment care, sanitation, and timeliness.  “The dairy division has the enforcement power to regulate dairy farms and ensure the milk they produce is safe and wholesome,” Tom says.  Inspecting a farm is no small task.

“The inspection begins at the mailbox,” Tom explains.  “We check for cleanliness of the entire operation.  We use a 19-point check system to score the cows, milk house, milking parlor, surrounding barns, water wells, and medication cabinets.  We inspect for proper care, proper location and administration of medications.  We look especially at the equipment condition and cleanliness.  We also monitor milking conditions, milk storage, milk sampling, and milk hauling.  All of these must meet the state and federal standards.  My job impacts Hoosiers by being a reliable safety net for milk.” 

BOAH’s dairy division permits and inspects Indiana’s 1200-plus dairy farms, 37 processing plants, 500 milk haulers (drivers), and more than 350 tanker trucks.  Indiana’s dairy farms range in size from 20 to 3000 cows, but, regardless of size, all farms receive the same level of inspection by BOAH staff.  “Dairy inspectors are also responsible for inspecting dairy product processing facilities in Indiana.  Every tanker load of milk is tested before processing to verify no contamination by antibiotics that may have been used on the farm.  Milk is the most highly regulated and closely inspected food product on the market.”

On modern dairy farms, the milk is never touched by human hands and is not exposed to contaminants.  “My job is important because the public wants to know where their food comes from and how the animals are treated.  I get to see and monitor much of this.  Dairy farmers are good, hardworking people, and I enjoy being around them.  Not many people see as many dairy farms and cows as I do.  I enjoy people and ‘good’ cows.” 

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