By Hillary Hibbard, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern: Young dairy family celebrates the importance of belonging and being engaged in the agriculture community.
An Interview with Craig Caballero, owner of Caballero Dairy Farms
A New Series celebrating Arizona Ariculture's Farm and Ranch families!!
Tell us about your farm and ranch
We are a dairy farm and we milk 3,800 cows. We ship to United Dairyman of Arizona. We also farm a large percentage of our own corn silage and alfalfa hay as forage for the cows.
What changes have you seen in your lifetime as it relates to farming and/or ranching?
I grew up in a dairy business that I believe was a very locally concentrated market, from cost and supply. We’ve evolved to where now it is a complete global market and the local market plays a very minimal role. Market volatility is something that is high and low prices. The swings of prices of inputs and outputs are extreme, violent almost. You have to manage your risk at a whole different level because if you don’t know how to manage your risk, it becomes very difficult to make it through the difficult times.
Why did you choose to go into agriculture?
For me, it is two different things. I grew up and felt like I had a deep understanding of the business. Plus, I truly love and enjoy what I do.
Will anyone in your family - younger generation - pursue farming and/or ranching?
My children love to spend time on the dairy. They are still very young and have time to experience life and all its opportunities. I will say that I will never force them to do anything or pressure them to pursue something that they do not have a passion for. You spend so much of your time in that arena you have to enjoy every minute of it.
The Caballero Family celebrates their dairy heritage!
Would you ever consider growing an emerging crop or changing your farm or ranch model?
Always! We are in a time period where the most adaptive agribusiness farms survive. You have to always be willing to re-evaluate what you are doing. And because we are in this global economy, that we just talked about, you have to always be thinking about the possibilities of change.
What are your community activities? Why are you involved?
My community activities are mostly dairy related. I am the Vice President of United Dairyman of Arizona and President of Arizona Milk Producers/Dairy Council. I stay in that arena because it goes back to doing what I know and it’s my passion. It allows me to promote my high quality food business to the general public. Because there are very few dairymen and a lot of people if we don’t take it upon ourselves to try and take the time to do it how else is it going to get done?
What is one fact/experience/achievement no one knows about you?
After playing 3 years at Grand Canyon University as the starting catcher, I played professional baseball for the Detroit Tigers.
What do you think you do really well? Explain.
I listen and always trying to learn. I do not pretend that I know everything. It goes back to the previous question, “will I be willing to change?” I really feel like I am able to learn and always able and willing to adapt.
Why are you a farm bureau member?
I believe it is very important to have the voice of the Farm Bureau to support and educate in agriculture. In my mind, we need to stand united in agriculture, period. There once was a time if you were a part of one side of agriculture, the other side almost looked at them as your competitor, or enemy. I believe those days are days of old. If you are a chicken guy; you better be aligned with the dairy guy and if you are a dairy guy; you better be aligned with the beef guy; if you are a hog farmer you better be aligned with the corn farmer. As a group of agriculture, we are really small and we must all be united! Through Farm Bureau they are our conduit to allow us to do that.
How will the next generation of farmers have to operate?
With the knowledge of global markets and the understanding of resources. Basically, water and the different resources that are needed and the global markets. We may be sitting here in Arizona but if you’re growing hay in Buckeye your market is set by somebody in Saudi Arabia that wants to purchase it, put it onto a boat, and ship it out of the United States. Also, knowing if you have enough water to grow your crop. I just think your mind has to be much bigger than “I grow corn in Des Moines, Iowa.”
Special note: The Caballero kids are also Youtube stars thanks to this video of the kids highlighting Arizona Dairy.