McClintock, 75, is a man who fits the bill of “soft speaking but carrying a big stick”. With quiet recollection, he talks about his years of hard work that [capitulated] winning him the 2022 Pioneer Dairy Producer Award, adding to a collection that includes a 2016 Distinguished Service Award from the Winneshiek County Fair. For seemingly his entire life, McClintock worked in the dairy industry in a litany of roles. Even now, in his “retirement”, he remains busy helping former clients.
However, this story begins in a small dairy owned by the McClintock family. Growing up in the dairy industry, it wasn’t until he graduated from high school that he started tending a few heads himself. By 1966, eight months after graduating from high school, McClintock had already purchased nine cows and received three more. Then he started working as an artificial inseminator, which he did for 35 years.
During this time he continued dairy farming with his father until they sold the farm in the mid-1980s. This was part of the “whole herd buyout scheme”, a period of the Regan era
program to reduce excess milk production by buying farms from dairy producers. Under this program, farmers were not allowed to return to acquired farms for at least five years after the sale.
Meanwhile, McClintock was looking for his own farm. However, when he could not find a farm, he left the dairy for himself. It was around this time, in 1991, that he found his second career – as a DHIA tester. DHIA (or Dairy Herd Improvement Association) testing involves analyzing milk samples for fat, protein, lactose, somatic cell count, total solids, and milk urea nitrogen. This is an optional test
procedure, which means that farmers are not required to do so, but can if they wish be eligible for certain rewards for milk production.
McClintock found himself working as a DHIA tester almost by accident, recalling how he was approached by a DHIA tester at the time, who said they just needed “someone to help them out until what they find someone else”. In the end, McClintock was that someone else. “I stepped in just to help, and 31 years later I quit!” he joked.
Now, as of March 1, Leroy is officially retired (but don’t tell his former clients, as he continues the old farmer’s tradition of working every day, even when they’re not supposed to). In her 56 years of official work in the dairy industry, McClintock said she’s noticed some pretty big changes.
“At the time, there were nearly 800 dairies in Winneshiek County,” McClintock said, “now we’re down to about 70.” However, as the number of farms decreased, McClintock noted that the size of the remaining farms increased significantly. “When I started in 1966, there were many, many small dairies, with herds of 4, 6, 8, 10 cows, which only produced enough milk for their own consumption,” he said. declared. “Also, all these dairies have hundreds of heads, but they all receive the same, if not better, care. It’s factory farming, but it’s still humane. It’s not the same thing, but I guess in some ways they [the cows] are better off. »
After his official retirement, McClintock was presented with the Winneshiek County Pioneer Dairy Farmer Award in April 2022. The Pioneer Award is given annually to a career farmer who has achieved high results over a long career in the industry.
McClintock said he was “pretty surprised” to win the award, but said he felt very grateful to be honoured. Yet that’s not why he gets up every morning.
It’s not for the awards or for the recognition or even for this article.
It’s for every cow and every customer he’s met, for the early mornings and late evenings and for the 56 years of dedication to something he’s known his whole life.