A. Ooms and Sons Dairy Farm spans across more than 2,000 acres in the farm rich country of the Hudson River Valley, approximately 20 miles southeast of Albany in the village of Valatie. As the name implies, Ooms Farm is a partnership between Adrian and three of his sons, Ron, Tim, and Eric.
While A. Ooms and Sons is officially a second-generation dairy farm, their farming history dates back to 15th century Netherlands. Adrian, the family patriarch, emigrated from the Netherlands to the United States in 1950 in search of the American Dream. In 1952, he founded Ooms Dairy Farm with his father Arend, and brother Antonie, and four years later, married a fellow Dutch immigrant named Dinie and went on to have four sons and a daughter; Ron, Tim, and Eric are part owners of the farm, Randy has his own farm in Malone, and Cindy lives away from the farm.
In the beginning, Adrian had just 300 acres and 55 cows, a respectable small-scale dairy farm, but a far cry from the farm's current closed herd of 475 Holsteins and 2,000 acres of grass, alfalfa, and corn, from which the Ooms produce all their own feed. He began selling his milk to Agri-Mark in 1956 and today, with the help of Ron, Tim, and Eric, along with their children and nine employees, produce more than 24,000 gallons of premium award-winning milk every week. In 1978, Antonie left the farm, and Randy left in 1992 start his own dairy. In 1982, the three remaining brothers entered into a partnership with their father. The four Ooms men are still working together today, dividing their time in the fields, producing the feed, milking the animals, and managing the business.
The family is highly involved in the local community: Adrian is on the Chatham Zoning Board; Tim is on the Kinderhook Town Board; Ron is an Agri-Mark Delegate; and Eric, who spent a year working as a lobbyist for the agriculture industry in D.C., is the Vice President of the New York Farm Bureau Board of Directors. "I left for Washington after college, and spent 2001 working part-time as a lobbyist," says Eric. "Even while I was in D.C., I would come home every weekend. My time in the Capital affirmed that I didn't want to work in Washington full-time. I loved being on the farm too much, working with my family. My compromise has been to be active with the New York Farm Bureau, which I've done in one way or another since returning to the farm."
In 2005, Eric married Catherine Joy, and the couple now has three kids; Arend, Grace, and Noah. He and his wife live in the original family farmhouse in Chatham, about five miles from the home of his parents and brothers, and their fields, in Kinderhook. On any given day, Ron's children Arielle, Megan, and Katelyn and Tim's children Emily and Brendan, can be found playing and helping out on the farm.
"Returning to the farm, and raising my kids here is one of the best decisions I've ever made," says Eric. "I wanted them to be able to learn work ethic and responsibility, just as I did, and there is no better place to learn than a working dairy farm. For me, there is nothing more valuable than having them work alongside me, and the rest of the family."
In the coming years, The Ooms plan to continue to grow their operation, and hope to increase their productivity by adding a computerized robotic milking system. In the meantime, the family will continue to do what they do best; produce some of the finest milk in the Hudson River Valley.