Source: Dairy Farmers of Ontario
Industry leader, dairy farmer, processor and Dairy Farmers of Ontario board member Bonnie den Haan receives 2020 Outstanding Dairy Women Service Award
Bonnie den Haan was named as the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Dairy Women Service Award at Holstein Ontario’s annual Eastgen Evening of Excellence at its annual general meeting in February.
“There are lots of people out there who deserve outstanding participations awards, and I feel very fortunate to have been given this one,” says den Haan.
According to Holstein Ontario, the Dairy Woman Service Award was developed with the intention of recognizing the women in dairy farming for their efforts to develop and maintain organizations which support a rural way of life.
Despite growing up on a beef and hog farm, den Haan always knew her passion lay in dairy farming, and with the support of her family, she has always felt confident as a woman in agriculture.
Shortly after receiving her degree from the University of Guelph, den Haan began work at Farm Credit Canada. From there, she used her experience to help her future husband apply for a quota loan, and after getting married, they converted his parents’ beef farm to a dairy setup and got to work.
As a young woman entering the dairy industry, she drew inspiration from the women in her life who instilled values of hard work and demonstrated the importance of engagement in in the community.
“My grandmother ran the show and kind of passed that passion on to me,” explains den Haan. “She was a great example of getting the job done and not being afraid to dig in and do the dirty work. That was a big inspiration to me.”
Den Haan also cites her local agricultural representative and 4-H coordinator, Marlene Werry, as a role model for participation in the industry. Following her example, den Haan has been a long standing 4-H Club leader, member of her local milk committee and now serves on the board of Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Farm & Food Care and as a director with Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC).
“I’m just very passionate about the industry,” explains den Haan. “When I go to DFO, I put the industry hat on and very much try to make decisions that are good for the whole industry in Canada.”
With a keen understanding of the dairy farming’s current position, den Haan believes that alignment and collaboration across provincial borders is integral to success.
“Now is the right time with the trade deals that are happening,” she says. “We need the government’s support, and if we can all pull from the same tongue, we’ll get further, that’s for sure.”
Den Haan also expresses concern over shifting consumer attitudes. With each of her four children pursuing their own respective careers in agriculture, den Haan calls for unity in hopes of building a more vibrant industry where everyone works together to overcome these challenges.
Looking forward, den Haan plans to continue serving the industry and lobbying for its success. Most, of all, she’s enjoying passing the torch to her children and their families.
“That’s probably the highlight,” she explains, “watching the family grow and expand and have passion too.”
The den Haan family has previously been awarded a Master Breeder Shield as well as the Champion Cow award at their local Black and White Show, but what makes this honour particularly special for denHaan is that it acknowledges her contributions as a woman in the industry.
When offering her advice to other women in dairy farming, she is optimistic, stating, “women are coming a long way. We just have to keep our confidence up.”
On behalf of all her industry colleagues, DFC extends a sincere congratulations to den Haan on her momentous accomplishment.