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Henry Richard Byma, a 36 year old third-generation Sussex County dairy, hay and grain farmer, is the 2015 New Jersey Outstanding Young Farmer.
Byma took the Farm and Industry Short Course at the University of Wisconsin at Madison with the goal of growing his family business to continue to be profitable, while at the same time, produce high-quality products through best practices and environmental health.
After returning from school and working as a full-time employee responsible for the family herd, in 2007 Byma and his father formed a business partnership, By-Acre Holsteins, LLC, which now comprises 680 acres in Wantage. Over the years, Byma has worked to increase efficiency and improve production. He added a 42-stall milking barn to their existing 64-stall barn and made other changes that enabled them to cut costs and increase herd production averages from 18,900 lbs. of milk per year to 21,700 lbs. He installed a 21-stall calf barn to provide a healthier, more efficient environment for calf development and enrolled in the New Jersey Cattle Health Assurance Program.
Byma places great emphasis on protecting and preserving natural resources. He has undertaken several conservation practices including use of cover crops to reduce soil erosion and water run-off; planted no-till corn to prevent soil erosion; and planted orchard grass to prevent water contamination. In 2012, a complex drainage system was constructed on the farm to reduce barnyard run-off and the farm is currently working with the Wallkill Watershed and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to develop a roof system on a farm building to collect rain and consolidate the run-off into the stock pond, already on the premises. They also have implemented a Conservation Nutrient Management Plan that allows them to more efficiently fertilize their fields while reducing any negative effects on water supplies.
Byma said his goal is sustainability of his operation so he has partnered with a firm to produce his first value-added product -- fresh mozzarella that is being sold in local supermarkets.
Byma and his wife, Christine, are active in the agricultural community. Henry is Vice President of the Sussex County Holstein Association and a member of the Sussex County Milk Producers Co-op, National Holstein Association, New Jersey Holstein Association, New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show, Sussex County Board of Agriculture, and New Jersey Farm Bureau. Both he and Christine are active in 4-H and host and organize dairy judging clinics, as well as donate calves to exemplary 4-H members. The Bymas have three young sons.