People Behind “Our” Product-#1 Milk Truck Driver

Patrick next to his truck

Midwest Dairy Association has a program called People Behind The Product. This is a great program that connects consumers with farmers. Well, I am going to start a new series in our blog titled “The People Behind OUR Product.” I am going to start highlighting all the amazing people who help us produce wholesome milk for your family.

It is only proper that we start this series with our milk truck driver. Patrick, driver for Kahn Trucking, has picked up our milk since we made the move to Organic Valley nearly two years ago. He picks up our milk every other day. He starts driving at 6:30 a.m. and arrives at our place (the last farm) at about 4:00 p.m. Then he makes his way to the Schroeder’s bottling facility in St. Paul to empty his truck and finally make his way back home to Plainview. Here are the answers to the questions I asked him.

Tell us about yourself:

I am a single custodial father of two girls Hope age 5 and Samantha age 11.  I initially went to college to become a pharmacist but ended up with a Bachelors in Business Management and a MBA.  I managed for many years in the food service industry and drove a big rig across the USA for 2 years and have been in every state except Alaska and Hawaii.  I also have hauled a gasoline tanker, dry van, refrigerated, and now a milk tanker.  I live in Plainview MN which is near Rochester.  I am trying to get a carved sign business started offering CNC carved signs.   I also do woodworking and fly model R/C airplanes.

Why is the milk truck industry important to the dairy industry?

The milk truck industry is important because the entire USA relies on trucks to deliver goods and products to everyone.  Whether it is a raw product such as milk from the farm, or chocolate milk to our schools, trucks have brought it.  What some do not realize is that milk truck drivers are licensed by the Department of Agriculture.  We maintain and carry a Milk and Cream grading license so we are able to tell if the milk at the farm is of sufficient quality to pump into our truck and co-mingle with the other milk we have already picked up.  Milk Truck drivers carry their Department of Agriculture License, A CDL (commercial driver’s license,) a health certificate from a physician saying they are medically able to drive, and must have air brake and tanker endorsements.  One unique thing about the truck I drive is that I have a tank which is called “smooth bore.”  The milk can slosh the entire length of the tank.  Meanwhile, most semi trucks and other tankers have what they call “baffles.”  Baffles compartmentalized the truck and the milk is not able to move as much.  One may ask why this is important?  At the end of the day I have almost 20 tons of milk on the truck. Moving 20 tons back and forth can make a truck tip over.  Additionally, it makes it extremely hard to stop, because even if we look like we stopped, the milk can move the truck forward almost 5 more feet when it sloshes.  So please, give us tanker trucks a break and never cut in front of us!!

Finally the most important reason milk trucks are important to the dairy industry is,  our tanks are insulated and we make sure your milk arrives still cold and fresh so the creamery can process it.
What is your favorite part of the job and why?

My favorite part of the job are the people and the animals.  I grew up going to my grand parents’ dairy farm every day to help out. It is refreshing to see the organic farms farming exactly like my grandfather taught me.  Also, to see all the kittens, puppies, calves, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, and lambs makes one appreciate the circle of life.  Seeing a young mother cat bring her babies down is something I get to see multiple times a day.  Playing ball with the farm dogs while the milk pumps makes the day go faster.

What is your favorite dairy product?

My favorite dairy product would have to be:  CREAM!!!

Cream is what makes the dairy world go round.  Ice cream, half and half, whipped cream, and butter are all made from cream!  Nothing better than a homemade bowl of cottage cheese with a nice cup of hot coffee with cream.

Any parting words?

My parting words are:  Farms are becoming a rarity, and we all still need to eat. Remember farms are where our modern existence begins!  I would be remiss if I did not part without saying, please give the big trucks some room, don’t cut in front of them, because they leave all that room for a reason.  Be safe on the roads because both of our lives could be in your hands!

Thank you for the interview Patrick and be safe out on the road!

Emily

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