An Interview with Erica and Mike de Smet
Local Hero: Best Farm, Greater New Mexico
Photos by Stephanie Cameron
Mike and Erica De Smet with their sons Landon and Logan.
De Smet is a third-generation, truly local dairy farm in Bosque Farms, New Mexico. The farm is unique in the dairy industry. Their cows are grassfed and free grazing, and calves are left with moms to allow nature to do what it does best. De Smet and their beautiful Jersey cows provide a variety of farm fresh products.
First of all, how are you holding up during this crisis?
This crisis has brought its fair share of challenges for us. We were thankful to be able to stay open and provide all our loyal customers, along with an influx of new customers, with a steady supply of food when local grocery stores could not. With the panic and abundance of new customers, we decided to limit our products per person in order to provide for all equally. On top of the extra stress and long hours, we had to become teachers for our two young kiddos.
Why did you decide to carry on the family business?
When our kids were born, we wanted them to have the same access to healthy milk as I had growing up.
De Smet offers both pasteurized and raw milk. Can you tell us a bit about the benefits of raw milk? Do you have a preference?
We carry a variety of products, including eggs, yogurt, cheese curds, pasteurized milk, and raw milk. When drinking milk, we prefer raw milk due to all its beneficial probiotics and natural vitamins and minerals.
Have you had to adapt your business during the lockdown? How so?
Yes, because the local grocery stores were running out of essential items like eggs and milk, we were hit with a number of thefts. We had to implement new security systems and start manning the self-serve honor system we’d been running for nine years.
Personally or professionally, have there been any silver linings for you during this difficult time?
Hopefully the silver lining will be more people [are] shopping locally and stop relying on the global supply chain.
We have all seen the heartbreaking images on the news of dairies dumping their milk during this crisis because of a drop in demand and a broken supply chain. Is this something De Smet experienced? Why or why not?
Our dairy operates differently than most dairies due to the fact that we milk the cows, process the milk, and distribute all ourselves. We are not at the mercy of the global market.
Even before the current crisis brought on by COVID-19, the dairy industry had fallen on tough times. Where do you see the future of the dairy industry headed? Do you see small, local dairies such as yourself being the answer?
Most people are price-driven when it comes to food, [and] the larger dairies are able to produce larger quantities of milk at a lower cost. Smaller grassfed dairies such as ours have lower production but provide an alternative to conventional milk. There is a need for both types of dairies to meet the needs of all consumers.
Tell us something surprising.
You’d be surprised to know that Jesús Escarcega, our dairy manager, sings rancheras to the cows as he is milking them, and I SWEAR, that’s part of the reason our milk is superior (ha ha). If they could talk, I’d bet they are bilingual, too, because Samuel Santiago, our head milker, only speaks to them in Spanish and they seem to listen when he nicely asks them to move up to the barn for milking time!
What does it mean to you for your community to recognize De Smet as a Local Hero?
I would like to sit here and take all the credit, but really my cows, our awesome employees, and all of our supporters are the real heroes! Without them we wouldn’t be able to provide this awesomeness called grassfed milk from free-grazing cattle! We appreciate the support today and over the years, and look forward to being your “hero” for years to come!
2405 McNew, Bosque Farms, 505-350-9075, desmetdairy.com