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Third generation dairyman Jim Riebli became a Clover producer in the late 1990s after leaving a co-op in search of a more personal, quality driven partnership where his milk would be revered as local.
“I chose to go with Clover because they are a small, family operated company and we are a small family farm. I’ve never looked back.” he says adding, “No matter where I go in the community (even the dentist chair), when people find out I’m with Clover they always tell me, ‘That’s the only milk I drink!’ It makes me proud to produce milk of the highest quality with the best taste.”
The Riebli family has been dairying on their land since Jim’s maternal grandfather established the farm on the northern outskirts of Petaluma in 1942. Soon after his mom and dad got married, the couple took over daily operations from his grandfather in 1962. They ran the conventional dairy until they retired in 1992, when Jim stepped in to continue the family business.
Dairying was a natural fit for Jim who grew up on this land working the cows on a daily basis. He loved the tractors and farm equipment. Initially he went to work straight out of high school doing welding & tractor work, but recognizing that he would always want to be back on the dairy, he tucked money away until he had a nest egg that allowed him to take over the dairy in 1992. After several years of shipping his milk to what had become a national co-op, Jim was ready for a change. At that time, Clover was looking to grow its direct relationship with producers, and it turned out to be a match made in heaven.
Jim was one of the first producers to ship milk directly to Clover in 1999. As Clover continued to grow, so grew their line of organic products. After completing the rigorous certification process in 2012, Riebli became an organic producer for Clover. Today he milks 180 Holstein cows twice each day. “Working with Clover has been so much better than my experience working with the co-op,” he says. “Marcus (Clover’s President and CEO) takes the time to meet with the producers personally every quarter, and their producer liaison, Dayna Ghirardelli, helps us stay up to date on certifications.”
Plus, he loves being able to walk out his back door to work every day.
Like all Clover producers, Riebli takes pride in working his 200 acres of land with sustainability in mind. “We maximize the health of our pastures and keep feed costs down by putting our cows on a schedule of rotational grazing,” he says noting, “Our cows are on pasture for a day, then we move them to new grazing. This quick rotation improves the quality of the grass & soil.”
Riebli also seeds his pastureland using a no-till drill, which helps keep nutrient rich carbon in the soil. He built a new barn to house young stock in the rainy winter months, which offers clean, dry bedding inside from the elements for the animals while having ability to contain manure.
His wife, Amy, is a local school teacher who appreciates Clover’s support of their larger community. “They have always generously donated product to my class & school,” she shares. The couple are proud their daughters Emma (11) & Lilah (7), are growing up on the family dairy, where they enjoy doing cattle work on their horses and participating on drill team. Jim hopes one day they will follow in his shoes as the 4th generation to continue the family dairy business.