A large-scale dairy operation in southern Lancaster County has earned a prestigious award for being a pacesetter in the dairy industry.The Young family of Red Knob Farm in Peach Bottom was one of two recipients of the Pennsylvania Dairy Stakeholders' 2008 Pacesetter Awards, which were handed out Feb. 6 at the 2008 PA Dairy Summit at the Lancaster Host Resort. The other recipient was Dennis Milhoan, president of Lancaster Dairy Farm Automation in Lititz.

The recipients were awarded for their "positive leadership and groundbreaking innovation."

The Pacesetter Award acknowledges individuals, companies, or organizations that have worked to promote a progressive dairy industry in Pennsylvania.

Red Knob Farm was founded in 1974 by two generations of the Young family: Henry, Dave and Matt Young. Among their ongoing contributions to the betterment of the state's dairy industry, the Youngs were instrumental in opening doors to the Order 5 southeast milk market - expanding opportunities for Pennsylvania milk - and later in the formation of the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania (PDMP), which is today's voice of Pennsylvania dairy producers.

"Over the past 33 years, this family-run dairy farm organization has instilled permanent and positive change in the dairy industry, the environment, and the community. Their legacy inspires excellence and encourages opportunity," said Matt Wanner, a Dairy Stakeholder board member.

"Red Knob Farm answered the call to pioneer PDMP's research and development project - building and running for five years what are today the largest, most respected corn silage hybrid trials in the U.S.," he said. "They also work actively to protect agriculture and promote the value of dairy farms to their surrounding community."

The Youngs have participated on Little Britain Township planning commissions, Lancaster County Planning Commission, Lancaster County Ag Preservation Board and Lancaster County Blue Ribbon Commission. They also formed the Dairy Farm Neighbors Association, which provides regular community education activities and secures community development grants awarded to civic organizations on behalf of Land O'Lakes dairy farmers.

As one of the earliest adopters of no-till farming practices, the Youngs are recognized leaders in environmental stewardship and continue to be respected as no-till innovators. Their efforts also provided the initial concepts that eventually matured into the Resource Enhancement and Protection Act of Pennsylvania (REAP). They have collaborated on initiatives like the Lancaster Farms project, and after 10 years of innovation in environmental structures at Red Knob Farm, they were named Conservation Cooperator of the Year in 2000.

"In an industry where attracting the next generation can be difficult, Red Knob Farm invests in the ongoing education and professional development of their personnel, having recruited and developed a six-person middle management team with an average age of 25," said Wanner.

Over the years, 18 members of the Young family have been employed at the farm, with 10 or more members representing three generations now involved in the business.

During the past three years, the Young family developed a progressive new business model and on Jan. 1, they forged Red Knob Farm into Keystone Dairy Ventures, LLC. This forward-thinking alliance is poised to make a lasting contribution, strengthening the position of Pennsylvania's dairy industry by securing pathways for future generations to have successful dairy careers as well as for existing producers seeking a flexible transition strategy. Comprised of several farms at various locations, Keystone Dairy Ventures is considering collaboration with additional farms that share the Young family's vision and core values.

Owners Henry, Matt and Dave Youngs have expressed the following: "We are very excited about the concepts that we are pursuing and are honored that the Pennsylvania dairy industry believes them worthy of the designation "pace-setting." However, we also recognize that history is littered with failures by so-called pacesetters who got too far ahead of themselves. It is our simple hope and fervent prayer that the good Lord will grant us both steady faithfulness in the pursuit of these new concepts as well as a generous helping of wisdom so that our ideas do not get too far ahead of our limited abilities. We are simply thankful for the blessing of being able to work in such an exciting industry with such wonderful people as exist in the Pennsylvania dairy industry."

Speaking on behalf of his generation, Andy Young said: "We are thankful for the opportunity to be part of Keystone Dairy Ventures and are honored to be able to carry on in the legacy that has been built by Henry, Matt and Dave over the past 33 years. The honor of this award goes to them. We just hope that the Lord will grant our generation an equal measure of ability in our careers as we work to build on this foundation."

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