Download 3.3: Dairy (PDF 8MB)

A happy cow on pasture. Photo: Lindsay Harris

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. 

Search the Atlas: Find milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy producers. -Show Categories


Pies for People Celebrates Community

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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Sally and Walt Goodrich
Photo: Goodrich Family

Faces of Farming: Molly Brook Farm

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…

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Cobb Hill Frozen Yogurt owner partner Jeannine Kilbride
Photo: Cobb Hill Frozen Yogurt

Frozen Yogurt Speeds Up with Slow Money

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…

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Maggie Atherton, an 8th generation future dairy farmer
Photo: Aires Hill Family Farm

New Generation Helps Preserve Dairy Farm

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,"…

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David invites guests to visit with the cows and help with daily chores in the barn.
Photo: Rachel Carter

Agritourism: The Authentic Farm Experience

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…

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Bread & Butter Farm
Photo: Erica Housekeeper / Happy Vermont

Complex Dough

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 &…

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Many small producers use VAT pasteurizers, but the LiLi processes more quickly, at 2 gallons per minute, and uses heat more efficiently, resulting in a less energy-intensive process and milk that retains more of its nutritional value and flavor.
Photo: Caroline Abels

Planting a LiLi

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…

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Guascor engines are commonly used with methane digesters in Vermont.
Photo: Vermont Agency of Agriculture

Digester on a Dairy Farm

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…

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McKnight Farm solar array in East Montpelier.
Photo: Catamount Solar

Solar Energy on a Dairy Farm

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…

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Alex explaining how the variable frequency drive holds the vacuum level on his milk pump.
Photo: Gregory Nesbit Photography

Efficiency on a Dairy Farm

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…

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Taylor and Nick Meyer in a field of sunflowers at North Hardwick Dairy.
Photo: Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.

North Hardwick Dairy

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…

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Monument Farms Dairy in Weybridge.
Photo: Monument Farms Dairy.

Monument Farms Dairy

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…

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Just after Memorial Day in 2013, the Audet family hosted a community celebration of the installation of a 100-kilowatt wind turbine.
Photo: Vermont Agency of Agriculture

Wind Energy on a Dairy Farm

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…

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Filling Greek yogurt containers at Commonwealth Dairy.
Photo: Gregory Nesbit Photography

Efficiency at a Dairy Processor

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,…

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Consumer shopping for local food
Photo: Rooted in Vermont

Economic Development in the Local Food Economy

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…

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