Jon Bansen was once told that it takes 20 years to become a good grazier.
“Good graziers are generally good teachers,” Jon says. “When I went to New Zealand to study their grazing operations, every farmer I met was more than happy to show me around and talk about what works and doesn’t work. I like to give that back.”
Now 25 years into the profession, he manages a successful 600-acre farm with over 200 cows, writes articles for Graze magazine and speaks to classes at Oregon State University. So you could say he’s finally earned the title.
Despite his years of experience, it’s clear his love for farming is as strong as when he first set foot on his grandfather’s dairy farm in Ferndale, California, where grass-based dairying was the standard and still is. "Most people think Christmas is the best day of the year, but they're wrong," says Jon. "Best day of the year is the first day of spring, when the cows go back out to pasture."
Jon believes his passion runs in the family. “They say [with] dairy farming, you have to be born with the disease. And so I was actually born into a dairy family. My grandfather was a dairy farmer, and my great-grandfather was a dairy farmer.”
Now with his oldest son Ross looking to carry on the family tradition, Jon knows he’s done enough so the farm will continue to thrive for generations. “The pride I take in how successful our system has been is that my children see value in it and want to come back. They want to have a part in agriculture, and in biological agriculture. And that’s what I take pride in, and that’s what I think is my legacy.”