The Ag One Foundation announced the creation of two Fresno State student scholarships sponsored by Rabobank N.A. in memory of Tony DeGroot, one of the area’s most respected and innovative dairy farmers.
Each scholarship will provide one year’s full tuition and a $500 book stipend for a student in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State.
DeGroot passed away at age 80 in September 2015 in a plane accident while on a fishing trip in Alaska.
He owned DeGroot Dairy near Hanford, which started in 1966 with 100 acres and 400 cows. The farm grew to 2,500 acres and 4,500 cows while raising its own youngstock. In addition, he developed a Dutch Warmblood horse breeding operation, D.G. Bar Ranch, that is well known in the dressage community.
The farm is now run by DeGroot’s son, Tony DeGroot Jr.
“The Tony DeGroot Memorial Scholarship honors Tony for his significant contributions to our community, industry and Rabobank,” said Bob Dingler, Rabobank executive vice president and food and agribusiness director. “He served for many years on Rabobank’s Ag Advisory Board and advocated for the bank to be involved in advancing the dairy industry through research and supporting education. We and his family decided that there is no better way to honor a man, who we all considered a friend and mentor, than to start a Jordan College scholarship in his name.”
DeGroot immigrated to the United States in 1956 from the Netherlands and began a career as a baker near Rochester, Minnesota before developing a lung condition known as Baker’s Disease. His doctors recommended that he relocate to the Southern California coast in 1959, but the condition eventually returned, so he moved inland to the Central Valley where his farming and dairy career began.
DeGroot was known in the industry for his progressive instincts, and he more than doubled the farm’s milk-per-cow productivity in the span of 25 years.
His milking parlor developed a new milking system that used two pulsators simultaneously and mimicked the natural suction of nursing calves, streamlining the process and using less energy.
His farm grew beets as a rotational crop in alkaline-rich areas to reduce soil salt levels, and the beets were incorporated into corn silage piles for feeding. He also incorporated microbial protein amino acids into cattle feed to assist milk protein synthesis and to cost effectively reduce the amount of protein needed in cattle diets.
In 2015 he was honored with the Betaseed Feed Beets’ first Pioneer Award.
The DeGroot endowment is among more than 100 that are managed by the Ag One Foundation. Started in 1979, Ag One has helped provide 3,700 students with more than $2.7 million in scholarships and grants.