Sixth-generation dairy survives mammoth storm

CW-MR-2-Breezyhill Dairy1298by Sally Colby

Like many generational dairy farms, Breezyhill has faced its share of challenges. The most recent was dealing with the sudden onslaught of snow that plagued a good portion of upstate New York. Brad Almeter, who is back on the farm after studying Animal Science and Ag Business at Cornell University, talks about how his family’s Sheldon, NY, dairy farm has progressed over the years.

“My grandfather Charlie took over the farm in the 1970s,” said Almeter, adding that the farm included 60 cows at the time. “He put up some freestall barns and Harvestore silos. He died in a tragic tractor accident three years later and my dad Roger took over the farm. I grew up on the farm and came back in 2002 after college.” [Read more…]

Mapleline Farm

CN-MR-3-Mapleline129xby Laura Rodley

Two things yellow play a big part at Mapleline Farm: the sunshine that is harvested for electricity, and the high butterfat in milk from their 112 Jerseys, plus a few Ayrshires. Green plays a huge part, too — it is found in the fields the cows graze, and in the many jobs the farm provides.

“We have a bunch of heifers due to calve in December,” said Paul Kokoski, a fifth-generation farmer and milk processing plant manager of the Hadley, MA operation. By Jan. 1, they expect 130 milking cows. Prized for their high butter fat, Jerseys’ other non-fat solids, like protein, also rank higher than other breeds. Jerseys are the most efficient cow based on the amount of feed you put in for the amount of milk produced, he notes. [Read more…]

Saving Small Dairy Farms

CN-MR-1-small dairy01by Tamara Scully

Dairy farms are getting bigger. As the number of dairy farms decreases, along with the number of cows being milked nationwide, the total amount of milk being produced, increases. Not only are cows producing more milk each day, they are doing so on larger and larger farms.

According to the article “Milk Production Continues Shifting to Large-Scale Farms,” by James MacDonald and Doris Newton, published in the December 2014 issue of Amber Waves, the USDA’s Economic Research Service’s magazine focusing on ERS research, analysis and policy issues related to agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America, dairy farming consolidation has been pronounced since 1992. In an industry where the number of dairy farms has decreased by 60 percent in the past two decades, this market reduction makes the possibility of starting small and mid-sized farming operations more difficult. [Read more…]

Virginia farm to table conference continues to grow

CM-MR-3-VA farm table01by Karl H. Kazaks

WEYERS CAVE, VA — This year’s Virginia Farm to Table Conference was highlighted by the participation of renowned soil biology expert Dr. Elaine Ingham.

As part of the multi-day conference focused on the burgeoning local foods movement within agriculture, Dr. Ingham, The Rodale Institute’s chief scientist, helmed a special day-long soil biology track, a series of discussions on the practical specifics of managing soil biology. The day of learning covered topics ranging from nutrient cycling to compost teas to pest control. [Read more…]