"> Iowa Farmer Uses Cheese Shop to Connect with Presidential Candidates - eDairyNews-EN
In downtown Muskoka, Iowa, there’s a little lunch spot called Moore Family Farms. It’s there that Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign spent some time during the Iowa Caucasus. The shop is owned by Heather and Brandon Moore, local dairy farmers with a unique story.
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Wisconsin has over 600 varieties of cheese. ( Farm Journal Media )

Brandon’s dad happens to be a former Republican Representative for Iowa, but because they believe everyone should have a seat at the table, they agreed to host the Warren campaign.

“When we had the opportunity to host Warren’s campaign, we jumped on it!” Heather Moore says. “It was a really cool experience.”

The Moores started their dairy four years ago. Heather grew up on her grandfather’s dairy until he exited the business at age 10 and never saw a future for herself in the dairy business.

“As a woman without a farm to go back to I had this idea that that I wasn’t going to be able to go back to production dairy,” she says. So, at University of Wisconsin Plattville, she studied agriculture education until the tugging on her heart to have a dairy of her own couldn’t be ignored. She then switched degrees studying animal science with a dairy emphasis and met her husband Brandon who grew up on a diversified farm. It would still be years before she and Brandon would start milking in their brand new 50-cow tie stall barn.

“We had [beef] cows on rented pasture for the first five or six years and then the opportunity came to purchase our farm which was set up for feeder cattle,” she says. “We moved in and started backgrounding calves and after a few years the opportunity came up to buy the ground next to us.”

At her FSA officer’s urging Heather put together a plan to fulfill her childhood dream and milk cows.

Heather credits their success as a start up dairy operation to a strong relationship with their lenders. “It’s truly taken a village to make this vision come to fruition, and having someone constantly willing to crunch numbers and reevaluate strategy has been a vital asset,” she says.

Moores built their barn so that if they needed to sell their cows, the barn could be turned into virtually anything.

“Basically, what we did was we built an insulated full shed, and we put sand beded tie stalls in it with the idea that if, if this goes self, we still have that investment that’s worth something and we didn’t put all this time and effort and money into a building that maybe wouldn’t be able to be repurposed for something else,” she says. Additionally, they expected labor could be an issue so they built the parlor and size of their dairy so Heather can manage all of the work herself if absolutely necessary. As the shop has grown, the Moores employee a full-time employee at the dairy. Brandon still works full time for a nutrition company.

The Moores ship the majority of their milk to AMPI however, they do make their own cheese on a limited basis to sell in their store downtown.

“We decided we were going to custom make some cheese. We thought we would wholesale it, maybe put a small building on the farm. We had one picked out that we could turn into a warehouse. But then it ended up that there was a building in town that was sitting empty for super, super cheap rent.”

So they opened the store planning just to sell cheese and then saw a need for another lunch option in their town, so they grew the store into a little lunch spot. The menu ranges from grilled cheese to mac n’ cheese and whatever the special is that day. Dairy is also a focal point.

“It’s just been an opportunity to use our product and use some of the other products that we have in our store and you know, add some value and become kind of well-known in our downtown,” she says.

It’s also become a great way to share dairy farming with presidential candidates.

“With Iowa being a hot spot for the Democratic caucusing this year, we kind of became a gathering place for the staff of the candidates,” she says. “We got to know Pete and Warren’s staff pretty well, and Biden and Klobuchar’s staff were also regulars at the shop because of the coffee as they’d remind us ‘the only wifi in town!’”

A dairy checkoff group says holiday demand for butter is strong this year. Suzanne Fanning with Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin tells Brownfield sales have not fallen since the start of the pandemic.

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