Derek Schmitz

Derek Schmitz

Derek Schmitz farms with his wife Taylor and three children in Central Minnesota, near Cold Spring. Growing up on the family dairy, Derek’s passion for agriculture was born. A voracious reader, he discovered “grass-based dairying” and managed grazing in his teens, which set the stage for Derek’s regenerative farming journey.

He created a vision of a farm that would be both economically and ecologically viable by relying on perennial forages. After high school and a two-yea stint as a herdsman on a conventional dairy, Derek purchased his first set of dairy cattle and began his journey. Prior to starting dairying, and to this day, Derek developed a network of mentors to ask questions to and bounce ideas off of. He characterizes his farm as “a conglomeration of ideas from dozens of farms with the intention of creation a low-input, family-friendly farm and lifestyle.”
Today, 10 years later, the dream is starting to take form. Derek and his family milk cows, develop heifers and bulls, and custom graze on their farm. The farm is dedicated to perennial forages to produce high-quality milk and meat while improving soil health and ecosystem functions. The farm serves as a model that forage-based production is possible and profitable in a conventional agriculture world.

When I discovered regenerative agriculture, I wanted to share it with everybody that I met because I knew it was the change that would revolutionize agriculture. I can confidently say that regenerative farming is solely the reason that we are still dairying after a 10-year slog through difficult ag prices and weather challenges. Developing a regenerative farm has created a resiliency to our operation that can’t be found in conventional farming.

As a consultant with Understanding Ag, I am excited to share what I have learned to help you build the same resiliency into your operations. The only thing I enjoy more than my family and regenerative dairying, is the opportunity to help others understand and successfully implement soil health and adaptive grazing principles and practices. Our regenerative journey has given our farm and family a brighter future, and I know it can do the same for yours.

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