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March 5, 2010

Horning family from Manchester named 2010 MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Horning family of Manchester has earned the highest honor bestowed from the Michigan State University Department of Animal Science: The MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year.

Earl and Diane Horning accepted the 2010 MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year Award during the fourth annual Michigan Dairy Industry Recognition Night held Feb. 12 as part of the annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference in Frankenmuth. Ted Ferris, MSU professor of animal science, presented the award.

Joining Earl and Diane in accepting the award were their son and daughter-in-law Jeff and Lynda. The Horning family works together to operate the six-generation family dairy operation started in 1877. Today, the farm consists of 360 milk cows, 410 head of young stock and 700 acres of cropland. The rolling herd average is 27,476 pounds of milk.

In addition to maintaining a high-producing, healthy herd of dairy cows, the Hornings focus their attention on helping consumers learn about and understand the dairy industry. Earl serves on state and national dairy promotional boards and is a member of the Michigan Milk Producers Association board of directors. Diane is active with the Michigan Farm Bureau promotion and education programs and has served for many years as a dairy communicator for MMPA. Jeff and Lynda are also active in dairy industry groups.

“Earl and Diane Horning, along with their son, Jeff, and his wife, Lynda, are progressive dairy producers who actively engage in industry leadership and hands-on committee roles at the local, state and national levels,” said Karen Plaut, chairperson of the MSU Department of Animal Science. “The family is also committed to actively promoting milk and dairy products to all audiences and educating consumers and families about the dairy industry.”

 “One of the challenges facing our industry is showing urban people who we are and how we operate,” Earl Horning said. “Lots of people want to tell our story for us, but we (dairy farmers) need to be the ones out there talking to people.”

Recently, the Hornings were one of several Michigan dairy farmers involved in creating a news bureau offering interviews and images of the dairy industry to reporters and community leaders, an effort spearheaded by the United Dairy Industry of Michigan. The Hornings have opened their farm to video crews and photographers as a modern-day example of dairy farming, and they are currently in the initial stages of planning a regional Breakfast on the Farm event on June 26 for community members and local leaders.

In addition to their promotion work, the Hornings – both MSU graduates – have partnered with MSU and MSU Extension on a number of research and education projects and served as case-study examples for dairy farm management courses. Earl Horning also serves on the MSU Extension Dairy Advisory Committee.

The MSU Department of Animal Science has a 100-plus-year tradition of educating outstanding students, providing excellence in research and engaging communities through Extension activities. For more information, call (517) 355-8383 or visit


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