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Local dairy farmer wins 2015 Agriculturist of the Year
Hilmar Jerseys 1
National Cheese Institute Chairman Mike Reidy presented the Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year Award to Mark Ahlem, Frank Dinis, and Chuck Ahlem during the IDFAs annual Diary Forum in Florida held earlier this year. Mark Ahlem and Chuck Ahlem are co-owners of Hilmar Jerseys and Dinis is the operations herd manager. Chuck Ahlem was just named the 2015 Agriculturist of the Year by the California Exposition and State Fair Board of Directors. - photo by Photo Contributed

It is safe to say that Turlock farmer Charles “Chuck” Ahlem’s year is off to a good start.

Right on the tail of winning the 2015 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year, Ahlem has recently been recognized as the 2015 Agriculturist of the Year by the California Exposition and State Fair Board of Directors.

As this year’s recipient, Ahlem meets all the requirements of an individual who has significantly contributed and showcased leadership skills within the state’s agricultural industry.

Ahlem wears many hats in the dairy industry, as he is the owner of Charles Ahlem Ranch in Turlock, a partner in several other ranches, and founding member of the Hilmar Cheese Company, the global processor and supplier of cheese, whey protein, and lactose.

He also is a board member on the California Dairy Council, member of the California Milk Manufacturing Board, and as an advisory member of the California Animal Health and Food Safety Board.

Ahlem has also served as Undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture under Arnold Schwarzenegger’s term as governor.

Ahlem’s awards for this year do not end there, as the dairy farmer was also the recipient of the 2015 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year for his emphasis on animal care and well-being at Hilmar Jerseys, a 6,000-cow dairy operation in Hilmar that Ahlem owns alongside his son Mark Ahlem.

 “IDFA and Dairy Today selected Hilmar Jerseys because of its dedicated focus on animal care, which the owners call ‘stockmanship’,” said IDFA President and CEO Connie Tipton in January. “At a time when animal care is gaining headlines and sound bites, we thought it was important to honor and highlight a dairy farm that is doing all the right things and spreading the knowledge to the broader dairy community.”