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Perazzo family embraces future dairy opportunities while honoring the past

Ashley Abbott for Progressive Dairyman Published on 22 June 2018
dairy museum tour

Great opportunities are few and far between, and how they are utilized can make all the difference in the world. When Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) began building a processing plant for powdered milk in Fallon, Nevada, in 2014, dairy farmers saw opportunities abound.

One such farm family was the Perazzo Brothers Dairy. After several years of milk production restrictions that would not allow them to expand their dairy, brothers Alan and David Perazzo welcomed the opportunity the new plant was bringing to their area.

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See more of the dairy in this slideshow.

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The new plant, which processes powdered milk primarily for export, has added opportunity not just for farmers in the Lahontan Valley, but all over the western U.S., according to Alan. When word of the new facility became official, it didn’t take long for the Perazzos to start their expansion. The family had been milking about 450 cows in a double-10 parlor that was built in 1974, so they were eager to upgrade their facilities. They felt that a new dairy facility was really necessary in order to welcome the next generation to take over their farm.

“My parents, John and Nancy, and my Uncle Jim and Aunt Margaret were able to give us the opportunity to take over the family farm, and I’m just so happy that we are now able to give our children the opportunity to farm here as well,” Alan says about the farm’s expansion. The Perazzo family has a rich history in the dairy industry, with Alan and David being the third generation of Perazzos to farm. The farm has endured a lot, and has been through many positive changes since David and Alan’s grandfather began farming with just six dairy cows.

The Perazzos began building their new facility at the same time that the DFA processing facility was being built so they were ready with an influx of milk as soon as the plant opened. Through both internal herd growth as well as buying several cows from the valley and their surrounding states, the farm was able to grow to the current 900 milking cows, with a goal of expanding to 1,600 milking cows within the next five years. The new double-30 milking parlor was a highlight of their expansion.

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Brent Perazzo preparing bottles

This opportunity seemed to come at a perfect time for the Perazzos, as their next generation was willing and able to come back to the family farm. There are currently five family members on the farm full-time, each falling into the role that they serve best while also working together to support each other as needed. David is in charge of the farm bookkeeping, as well as managing the field work, while his brother Alan is more of a general farm manager. The younger generation has management roles as well, with Brent being in charge of calves and doing some mechanic work, and Daniel being the herd manager. Michael is the most recent Perazzo to join the farm full-time and is able to fill in wherever he is needed.

When the family made the move to their new milking facility, they also made an interesting decision to add a farm museum to their dairy. The museum was inspired by Nancy Perazzo, who had worked as a kindergarten teacher for over 30 years and had frequently brought her students to the farm for tours. The family wanted a way to continue educating the youth of their area about dairy farming while still keeping them safe and out of the way of the everyday chaos of a dairy farm. Thus, the idea for the museum was born.

The museum sits over the top of the dairy facility and looks down over the parlor, giving visitors a view of what is going on in real time. There are also videos to show the workings of the other parts of the dairy. To add to the interest of the museum, the Perazzos found several pieces of old equipment in their grandfather’s shop, which have been added to the museum to illustrate the changes that have been made over the years.

Perazzo family

While Fallon is a pretty rural setting, Alan is quick to point out that many of the students who come to the museum have little if any idea of where their food comes from. Being able to instill a basic knowledge of agriculture in these students is a great source of pride and tradition for the Perazzos. The museum has really been a great addition to the farm, with students often coming from Reno and surrounding cities to tour it.

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While the Perazzo family and many other farmers in their area welcomed the opportunity to ship more milk and expand their herds, the DFA processing plant in Fallon was not the only component to the success of these farms. Great management and a progressive mentality have also been key to the growth of this dairy. The Perazzos were recently recognized as the 2018 DFA Member of Distinction for the Western Area, an achievement that was earned through many years of hard work and dedication to the dairy industry. With the fourth generation of Perazzos joining the farm, there is no doubt that this farm will continue its legacy of dairying for many years to come.  end mark

Ashley Abbott is a freelance writer as well as an ag teacher and FFA adviser in Weyers Cave, Virginia.

PHOTO 1: David and Alan Perazzo provide a tour of their dairy museum overlooking the parlor to a group of local youth.

PHOTO 2: Brent Perazzo is in charge of calves and does some mechanic work on the 900-cow operation.

PHOTO 3: The Perazzo family. Back row (left to right) – David, Jackie, Brent, Alan. Middle row (left to right) – Margaret, James, Laila, John, Nancy, Sadie, Hanna, Elise, Daniel. Front row (left to right) – Brinley and Miles. Photos by Dairy Farmers of America.

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