by Taylor Young
January 9, 2017
Vermont is known for its picturesque pastures, red barns and grazing
cows. But that scenery is getting harder to find. A state that once had
thousands of dairy farms now has just over 800 and another one is about
to close. This weekend a farm in Weathersfield is saying goodbye to its
David Fuller has owned a dairy farm in Weathersfield since 1977.
"Since I was a kid I've had cows and I just like them," said Fuller.
And over the past 40 years, he's sold over 50 million pounds of milk.
But even for this small, family-owned farm, the amount of work put in isn't worth the decreasing amount of money coming out.
"We could never afford, ever, to just simply farm," said Fuller.
Fuller saw as a promising career in the 1970s is now an industry many
like him are leaving due to a 40 percent drop in milk prices.
"There comes a time when to stop and that's here," said Fuller.
So, he's hanging up his farmer hat and saying goodbye to his cows.
"That's Susie and we have Susie's daughter which I can't remember her name right now," said Fuller.
During our interview, he couldn't seem to take his eyes off his grazing herd of Holsteins.
"They do get in you and it makes it a lot tougher," said Fuller.
selling of this farm not only marks the end of an era for the Fuller
family but also the town. In 1980, Weathersfield had more than 10 farms.
After this one is sold, there will be none.
"It seems like this is the way it is," said Peggy Ainsworth.
Ainsworth is the co-owner of Westlands Farm in South Royalton and serves as a delegate on the Windsor County State Farm Bureau.
She says the drop in milk prices are affecting dairy farms across the state including her own.
do somewhere around 1 million pounds a year. So, for every dollar
decrease that's about a $10,000 less cash flow than we have," said
Since Wednesday, milk prices have dropped $8 since
2015, so for the Westlands Farm that means $80,000 less a year.
Ainsworth says that lack of money affects the ability to repair
equipment and pay for extra labor.
"If you don't have the labor
and you're doing it all yourself, you can only go for so long. Me and my
husband are both in our 60s and who knows how much longer we have left
to do it," said Ainsworth.
As for Fuller and his farm, his next step is to make sure his cow families are auctioned together to a new home.