Personal Connections

June 10, 2009 07:00 PM

*Extended comments highlighted in blue.

Mark Rodgers
West Glover, Vt.
The Vermont legislature recently passed legislation to allow dairy producers to sell up to 50 qts. of raw milk daily without additional licenses or inspections. Many people, producers and consumers, have taken advantage of this opportunity. We, however, have not done so due to liability concerns and in light of the fact that five dairy animals in Vermont have died of rabies in the past few months (one was less than three miles away).

In the past,
I have had experience selling to customers on the farm and promoting products at retail outlets. It is enjoyable for me, and customers like the direct contact with the producer of their food. In Vermont, the popularity of artisan cheeses has grown considerably and cow, sheep and goat dairies sell various products at the farm, farmers markets and local retail venues. We do sell maple syrup here at the farm as well as ship to customers all over the country. We also sell some beef, pigs, firewood, hay, compost and manure. We provide free manure to any of our neighbors to promote good relations.

I grew up on a dairy that hosted farm vacations, so I know the importance of public education. I go out of my way to be available for school trips, walking tours that are popular here all summer and into the fall and the neighboring bed-and-breakfast that sends folks to "see the farm.” I have spoken at schools, civic functions and other events about the dairy business.

I have farmed organically in the past but now choose to farm commercially. There are over 400 organic dairies in Vermont but it is not the right fit for many, and there is an oversupply of organic milk right now.

I have always wished to employ my degree in dairy food technology and process milk here on the farm, but economics have not provided the opportunity to allow that yet. I hope that someone from the next generation will be inspired to transform our high-quality milk into delightful, profitable products here on the farm.

Rodger's April Prices  
Milk (3.9% bf, 3.1% prt): $12.92/cwt.
Cull cows: $89/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,600/head
Alfalfa hay: $300+/ton
Cottonseed (trailer loads): $169/ton
Whole cottonseed: $298/ton

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