“One of the great things about the industry is the people. That’s why I kept getting involved in leadership because, quite frankly, I like dairy farmers a lot better than I like lawyers.”
For a good chunk of the 1980s, Joe Wright worked in law offices and courthouses as a Winter Park lawyer representing clients in the healthcare industry and lenders in commercial litigation and bankruptcy.
And then he – literally - married the farmer’s daughter, stepped eagerly into a new career as a dairyman and never looked back.
“It was an easy decision to leave the practice of law where I was refereeing other people's disputes to go where I was making a healthy food product for people, while interfacing with the most genuine, hard-working people I know - America's dairy farmers,” says Joe, president of V&W Farms in Hardee County.
A pasture-based, modified grazing operation, the 1,335-acre dairy is home to 1,200 cows. Joe’s late father-in-law, Charlie Williams, started the farm. It can trace its roots back to Charlie’s dad, C.B. Williams, who operated a dairy farm in the Miami area beginning in the late 1920s.
“Our farm is located on a beautiful piece of property,” Joe says. “I get to see and appreciate God's creation every day.”
As if running the farm wasn’t a full-time job, Joe has served on a number of national boards supporting the dairy industry. He is president of Southeast Milk Inc., the state’s largest dairy cooperative, and an advisory member of the Florida Dairy Farmers board of directors. He was a voting member of the FDF board for 10 years.
“One of the great things about the industry is the people,” Joe says. “That’s why I kept getting involved in leadership because, quite frankly, I like dairy farmers a lot better than I like lawyers.”
Joe and wife Suzanne have a son, Charley.