In defense of Dairy Farmers.

Ed Clifford hmdrawrod at citlink.net
Sun Apr 7 08:46:43 EDT 2002


Most of the talk of Dairy farmers on this list seems to portray them as old
fashioned farmers, doddering along, listening to what big AG and gov't have
been telling them. I am not a Dairy farmer, I farm a small part of a larger
farm that I own. The remainder is leased to a local Dairy Farmer. My
neighbor is among the best farmers and people I have known. He doesn't like
the price supports, he believe it keeps prices low, by keeping too many
people in the game.
   Despite low prices he makes money every year. Him, his wife, and her
father, grow all the food, care, and milking needed for 160 head. Locally,
( and by no means all), most "value added" farmers look down their noses at
dairy farmers, as dinosaurs, using too much land for too little profit. As
their "farms" return 7 - 12K per acre. Not one of them realize they or their
spouse work off the "sustainable" farm, the health insurance is paid for by
someone else, the steady income. Guess who is asked, (and won't take a dime)
to pull cars out of ditches, plow the heavy clay in the fall, or supply
manure, (delivered and spread free), with the large tractor needed for such
an operation. When the government did step in it was to protect the
watershed, he had to ante up 20% of a concrete walkway for his cows to ford
a stream. Seems like a noble cause, except now it is used as public access
for ATV's to race up and down the shallow stream, depositing oil and gas in
this resource.
  I live in the Mohawk Valley of NYS, the scenery is spectacular in the
Fall, dairy farmers have kept the land like this, open, with huge hedgerows
of Maple, (their value added product) and pine. When land becomes more
valuable and dairy farmers are gone, I wonder if the same people who
ridicule them now, will long for the "old days" of cows on an open hillside
munching on grass.
 Just a thought
                      Ed Clifford
                     Shale Rock Farm




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