March is Women’s History Month and the Utah Farm Bureau Federation & American Farm Bureau are taking the time to highlight women in agriculture.
“I was NOT going to marry a dairy farmer.” Famous last word for Maria Nye, who operates two dairy farms in Millard county with her husband John Nye. Maria was raised on a dairy farm in Franklin, Connecticut, where she determined she was not going to marry a man in the business.
“Then I met John. . . ,” Maria said. “And I knew that was it.”
After graduating with her bachelors in Animal Science from the University of Connecticut, Maria and John operated their dairy farm in Connecticut together for 13 years.
“We were farming in a 20-mile radius and it got to the point that if we wanted to stay in the dairy business we needed to relocate,” Maria said.
She said her father in law, an extension agent in Utah, informed them Millard County was seeking dairy farmers to help add value to the county and take advantage of prime Alfalfa growing country.
“Three things were important to us,” Maria said. “Opportunities for our children to be part of our operation, a good place to have a business, and a good place for our family.”
The Nye’s felt all three of their criteria were met in a move to Utah, so in 1996 they started milking on their newly built facility in Millard County: “Mountain View”. They have since added a second facility, “Horizon”; and between the two they milk 3,500 cows.
“We’re a big farm, but we’re a family farm,” Maria said. “Our oldest son is our Operations Manager, and our second son is in charge of corral and equipment maintenance.”
Maria is also deeply involved in agriculture advocacy. She serves on the Utah Farm Bureau Ag Promotion Committee, is involved in Millard County’s Women’s Committee, sits on Millard County’s Farm Bureau board, hosts farm field days, participates in community parades and fairs, is a 4-H leader, President of her county’s junior livestock show, and part of her FFA chapter’s alumni group.
“When I think of Maria these words come to mind: energy, determined, happy, smile, forgiving, organizer, do’er, friend,” Belva Parr, State Women’s Committee Chair said. “Working with Maria gives me a boost to keep going. She is wise. She is one I want on our side at all times, in all places.”
Maria said she wants to be sure consumers have accurate information and perceptions of dairy farmers.
"We care deeply about our animals, we cry over them when they’re sick, and feel tremendous frustration when we can’t help them,” Maria said. “Right after animals, consumers are our top concern. We want to produce a wholesome product.”
She said that in the future, she hopes that all dairy men can work together to preserve their industry.
“We are providing a tremendously helpful and wholesome food to the world, and we have so many dairymen who are great thinkers and entrepreneurs,” Maria said. “We need to come together as an industry, we have strength in numbers.”