Farmer Q&A: Dairy Farmer Matt Simon

Matt and his father, Mike, watching over the cows.

Five Questions for Dairy Farmer Matt Simon

Matt Simon, 43, is a dairy farmer. He farms with his father, Mike and his brothers Frederic, 47, and Jason, 42, at Simon Brothers Dairy just outside of Conway in Faulkner County.

Q: What’s the most satisfying aspect of being a dairy farmer?

A: The most satisfying thing is getting to work for yourself and at the same time on our operation, working with our family members. Working in a family situation results in some of the most rewarding times you’ll ever be in. You do have to be diplomatic and work things out, and you try to hedge off problems before they get to big.

Q: What’s the most frustrating aspect of being a dairy farmer?

A: Right now the most frustrating part is not being able to generate enough income to make a living.

Q: Dairy farming is so labor intensive. The cows have to be milked every day, twice a day, all year long. At the end of the month, have you ever had the courage to pull out the calculator and figure out how much money you’re making per hour worked?

A: (Laughing) No! That’s the one number I’m too scared to compute.

Q: At one time, Arkansas had more than 2,000 dairy farms. Now, there’s less than 50. What is the future of dairy farming in Arkansas? Is the milk glass half full or half empty?

Cows in the pasture.

A: Any farmer has to say “half full” all the time or he won’t be farming. And it’s almost to be an American you have to view the glass as being half full. The answer to what the future of dairying is going to be will be learned real soon. Unless the problem is remedied, the end is soon for Arkansas production. Ultimately, the government is going to have to fix it, because it is the one determining how milk is priced and marketed.

Q: What keeps you dairy farming?

A: It’s a way of life that I started. And it’s a challenge that you want to stay and make it profitable. It’s a good life. I’ve got kids that I want to give the same opportunity to that my parents gave me. It’s an American lifestyle.