Richardson County Farm Bureau member Ben Steffen’s parents, Dick and Sue, started milking 20 cows in 1957 with a $100 down payment and by 1965, had increased the herd to 100. Soon after Ben and Paula Sue graduated from college – both in 1984 – Dick and Sue handed over management to Ben but that doesn’t mean they’re not still involved on the farm.
“Everyone does what they’re good at,” Ben says. And of his wife, “You can’t buy that kind of help – you have to marry it.”
And that’s just what he did in 1985. Paula Sue keeps the dairy records, does the accounting and paperwork; Ben does the farming – corn, silage and brome hay; his sister Sarah feeds the bucket calves; his nephew Patrick helps cut silage; Sue prepares the daily meals; Dick continues to help on the dairy. They currently milk 120 cows and have 10 more dry cows. They ship 1,000 gallons of milk each day and if you’ve ever had Roberts milk or ice cream, you may have consumed product made with Steffen milk.
When asked what makes this Nebraska dairy farm special, Ben says, “My dad was a pioneer of no-till farming, we keep our farm neat and clean, and we believe in giving back to the community.”
And on any given day, you may find one of them humming a tune while working: Sue plays the organ at church, Paula Sue sings in the choir and Ben directs and sings in a barbershop quartet. And another little-known fact to leave you with: Ben has his pilot’s license.