Story and photography by Erica Houskeeper. Original version appears at Happy Vermont's website. All it takes is flour, butter, salt, and water to make a pie crust. But it takes a community to make a difference. Pies for People, now in its eleventh year, is a community-building initiative that brings together volunteers, gleaned local…
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Vermont is the largest dairy producing state in New England, and dairy products (milk, dairy beef, and forage crops grown for livestock) account for upwards of 83% (≈ $584 million, adjusted for inflation to 2010 dollars) of the state’s agricultural products’ sales, and as much as 90% depending on market prices. Even though the number of dairy cows has declined, the average amount of milk produced per cow has increased, and total milk production has consistently exceeded 2 billion pounds of milk per year for the past 50 years.
Value added dairy products including ice cream, cheese, butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, powdered milk, and other products also provide profitable opportunities for Vermont dairy farmers. Gross sales of Vermont’s processed dairy products total about $1.2 billion per year.
Vermont’s dairy-centric landscape also contributes to the desirability of Vermont as a tourist destination. The Vermont Tourism Data Center estimates that at least 10 million people visited the Green Mountain State in 2009, many of whom were attracted by the beauty of the landscape. These visitors spent over $1.42 billion, generated about $200 million in tax and fee revenues, and contributed to the employment of 33,530 people.
Dairy cows and dairy farms are recurring motifs in Vermont branding, artwork, and culture, from Ben & Jerry’s packaging to Woody Jackson’s and Warren Kimble’s folk art, from county fairs to the Burlington Cow Parade. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy has described dairyman-turned-actor-turned-Senate candidate Fred Tuttle as “the distilled essence of Vermonthood.” For over 100 years, dairy farming has had significant economic, ecological, and cultural impacts in Vermont.
One of the first things you notice at Molly Brook farm is that Rhonda and Myles Goodrich call every single one of their 77 cows by name. “Move along Clover,” or “this way Charlotte” is heard in the milking parlor during the daily milking sessions. The Goodrichs, like so many…
Written by Rachel Carter Published in Small Farm Quarterly Creamy farmstead frozen yogurt in vanilla, chocolate, maple, and coffee flavors is pumped into 300 Cobb HillFrozen Yogurt pints a week—a number that has more than doubled from this time last year. “A year ago, it took us three production days to do what we…
Written by Laura Hardie, New England Dairy Promotion Board Karie Thompson Atherton, 35, is the seventh generation to grow up on her family’s dairy farm in Berkshire, Vermont and always knew she wanted to continue the tradition of dairy farming. “There's definitely easier ways to make a living, but none as fulfilling,"…
Wrtitten by Rachel Carter Published in Small Farm Quarterly Tucked delightfully in the foothills of the Green Mountains along scenic Rte. 100 in Rochester, Vermont, sitsLiberty Hill Farm—a working dairy farm defined by the 1890’s red barn with cupola—one of the most photographed in all of Vermont. Beth and Bob Kennett milk…
Prepared by Carrie Abels for the Financing Cross-Cutting Team Bread & Butter Farm, which straddles the South Burlington/Shelburne border, sells an array of farm products and experiences—everything from grass-fed beef to fresh-baked German bread to winter vegetables to farm-fresh burgers served on Friday evening “Burger Nights.” But the diversity of Bread &…
Written by Caroline AbelsVermont's Local Banquet To understand what the LiLi pasteurizer—conceived and developed in Vermont—could mean to the dairy community of Orange County, New York, I drove to the Hudson Valley in early July and chatted with some longtime dairy farmers.They told me—a few minutes before the ribbon-cutting ceremony that…
Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 225 kilowatts of installed capacity ● 1.75 million kWh of electricity generated per year ● 7-year payback ● Cow Power farm generates electricity and uses waste heat for greenhouse Download the pdf. Lois and Maurice Maxwell started…
Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 95 kW (AC) of installed capacity ● ≈120,000 kWh generated annually ● Payback period = 6 years ● Fixed rack solar PV systems and trackers are common throughout Vermont Download the pdf. McKnight Farm, an organic dairy…
Prepared by JJ Vandette, Planning and Development Associate, Efficiency Vermont Highlights: $7,600 in first year savings ● $94,000 in lifetime savings ● 58,300 kWh in annual electricity savings ● Close relationship with the equipment vendor and Efficiency Vermont led to major cost savings and business improvements Download the pdf. Brace Farm Inc. is…
Everyone in the Hardwick area knows the North Hardwick Dairy —“it’s the one on the hill with the wind turbine.” The turbine is evidence of farmer Nick Meyer’s focus on meeting his goal of greater self-sufficiency. “I want to produce everything the farm needs on the farm.” The higher and relatively stable…
Monument Farms Dairy began in 1930 as a home delivery route run by Richard and Marjory James in the Weybridge area. Today, the company is managed by their grandson Jon Rooney and two of his cousins, Bob James and Pete James. And their responsibilities are doled out equally, just as you’d…
Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 100 kW of installed capacity ● ≈150,000 kWh generated annually ● Unique partnership with Green Mountain Power facilitates community-scale wind energy installation Download the pdf. The Audet Family has operated Blue Spruce Farm since 1958 and currently…
Prepared by JJ Vandette, Planning and Development Associate, Efficiency Vermont Highlights: $150,000 in first year savings ● $2.1 million in lifetime savings ● 1.5 million in annual kWh savings ● Refrigeration system, compressed air system, motors, lighting, heating, and ventilation optimized Download the pdf. When German Company Ehrman AG partnered with Commonwealth Yogurt,…
Written by Jake Claro When you ask people their definition of the Vermont food economy, they’ll often talk about farms, farmers’ markets or CSAs. What’s often missing from the conversation are the supply chain of local businesses such as distributors, food processors and manufacturers, and seed, feed, and equipment dealers. Vermont’s local…
1. Dairy Economics
- James M. MacDonald et al., Profits, Costs and the Changing Structure of Dairy Farming, USDAA Economic Research Report Number 47, September 2007.
- Bob Parsons, "Vermont's Dairy Sector: Is There a Sustainable Future for the 800lb Gorilla?", Opportunities for Agriculture Working Paper Series, Volume 1, Number 4.
- General Accounting Office, "Information on Milk Prices, Factors Affecting Prices, and Dairy Policy Options", December 2004.
2. Dairy Diversification
3. Organic Milk
- Carolyn Dimitri and Kathryn M. Venezia, Retail and Consumer Aspects of the Organic Milk Market, USDA Economic Research Service, 2007.
- Timothy Dalton et al., "A Comparative Analysis of Organic Dairy Farms in Maine and Vermont: Farm Financial Information from 2004 to 2006." Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station Bulletin Number 851, University of Maine, July 2008.
5. Crop Management
6. Dairy Beef
- Rose Wilson, Charlene Anderson, and Louise Calderwood, New England Beef-to-Institution Marketing Study, October 2011.
- Elizabeth Ferry, "Older Dairy Cows Could Become Steady Source of Local Beef," Vermont's Local Banquet, Winter 2010.
7. Methane Digesters
8. Historical State Reports
1. Vermont Data
2. Vermont USDA Dairy Data - Farms by County
3. Vermont USDA Dairy Data - Farms by Herd Size
- USDA 1997 Census of Agriculture, Vermont Dairy Farms by Herd Size 1997, Table 51 page 127.
- USDA 2002 Census of Agriculture, Vermont Dairy Farms by Herd Size 2002, Table 59 page 157.
4. Vermont USDA Dairy Data - Farms by Number of Cows
- USDA 1997 Census of Agriculture, Vermont Dairy Farms by Number of Milk Cows 1997, Table 29 page 33.
- USDA 2002 Census of Agriculture, Vermont Dairy Farms by Number of Milk Cows 2002, Table 17 page 20.
5. Vermont USDA Dairy Data - Farms by Size (Acres)
- USDA 2007 Census of Agriculture, Vermont Dairy Farms by Size (Acres) 2007, Table 62 page 175.
- USDA 1997 Census of Agriculture, Vermont Dairy Farms by Size (Acres) 1997, Table 51 page 127.
6. Vermont USDA Dairy Data - Sales
- USDA 2007 Census of Agriculture, Total Sales of Vermont's Agricultural Products by Commodity Group 2007, Table 2 page 9.
- USDA 2007 Census of Agriculture, Vermont Dairy Farm Gains and Losses, Table 62 page 165.
7. Vermont Organic Dairy Data
8. Vermont Historical Dairy Prices
- Figure 3.3.1: Net Earnings per Hundredweight (CWT) of Milk, 1977-2012 jpg 111K
- Figure 3.3.2: Dairy Farms and Non-Dairy Farms by County, 2007 jpg 238K
- Figure 3.3.3: Density of Vermont Dairy Cattle and Milk Production Locations jpg 684K
- Figure 3.3.4: Vermont Cow Dairy Farms, 1920-2011 jpg 155K
- Table 3.3.1: Number of Dairy Farms by Production System and Size of Farm, 2011 jpg 438K
- Table 3.3.2: Vermont Dairy Farm Size, 2007 jpg 323K
- Figure 3.3.5: Vermont Dairy Farms by Size, 1997-2007 jpg 286K
- Table 3.3.3: Vermont Dairy Farms by Herd Size, 1997-2007 jpg 402K
- Table 3.3.4: Vermont Dairy Farms by Number of Milk Cows, 1997-2007 jpg 452K
- Figure 3.3.6: Number of Vermont Dairy Cows and Milk Production, 1927-2012 jpg 184K
- Table 3.3.5: Vermont Dairy Production Classes, 2007 jpg 213K
- Figure 3.3.7: Northeast Milk Production, 1951-2011 jpg 171K
- Figure 3.3.8: U.S Per Capita Availability of Dairy Products, 1970-2010 jpg 347K
- Figure 3.3.9: Total Sales of Vermont's Agricultural Products by Commodity Group, 2007 jpg 394K
- Table 3.3.6: Vermont Dairy Farm Gains and Losses, 2007 jpg 864K
- Table 3.3.7: Value of Production by Farm Typology jpg 1011K
- Figure 3.3.10: Vermont All-Milk Price per CWT, 1960-2012 (adjusted for inflation to 2010 dollars using the fresh processed milk producer price index) jpg 140K
- Figure 3.3.11: Class I-IV Prices per CWT for Northeast Milk Marketing Order, 2000-2010 jpg 211K
- Figure 3.3.12: Northeast Net Earnings per Cow (adjusted for inflation to 2010 dollars using the fresh processed milk producer price index) jpg 343K
- Table 3.3.8: Dairy Price Stabilization Programs jpg 309K
- Table 3.3.9: Results of Three Proposed Milk Stabilization Programs jpg 413K
- Table 3.3.10: Top Organic Dairy Producing States, 2008 jpg 318K
- USDA 2007 Census of Agriculture Dairy Maps