Ralph Ross and Sons Dairy receives recognitionSpecial to The Mountaineer
Ralph Ross and Sons Dairy, a local family that is well known in the farming community, was named Outstanding Conservation Farm Family recently during the Area I Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ Fall Meeting, held at the WNC Ag Center in Fletcher. The Ross Dairy operation was nominated by the Haywood Soil and Water Conservation District.
Soil and water districts have a long history of working closely with farmers to help them manage their resources, making both state and federal programs available to farmers who want to be good stewards of the land. Farmers are nominated for the award based on their knowledge of conservation and their conservation practices, community involvement, stewardship and education. After a farm is recognized by the local district, a judging committee tours winning farms in Area I (made up of 16 counties) to determine the Area winner.
Many people, both natives and new residents, love western North Carolina for the sense of community they find here. Few, however, realize that one benefit may include knowing that the milk they buy for their families comes from a dairy farm only a few miles away. Despite the demands of running a large dairy farm, Ross family members make time to be involved in local events such as the Haywood County Fair, Cattlemen’s Association Annual Beef Roast and Tuscola High’s FFA Banquet. Both Ralph and Barbara Ross serve on the Board of Directors for the Haywood Farm Bureau. Through the years of raising their family — daughter Deana and sons Hank and Ferguson — the farm has evolved into the family operation that many farm couples envision when they begin. While Deana and her husband own J. Owen Trucking, Hank and Ferguson and their families have remained with the dairy, contributing to the blend of hard work and pride that produces a successful dairy operation.
Gail Heathman is education coordinator for Haywood Soil and Water Conservation District