Milking It For All It's Worth

US - Farmers may have founded this country, but dairy farmers in particular have largely disappeared from Connecticut
calendar icon 30 April 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
A big reason for this, said Don Domina, general manager of the Central Connecticut Co-Op Farmer’s Association in Manchester, is the federal milk market. The market, run by industry and government regulators, sets the wholesale price dairy farmers can charge distributors for their milk. It hasn’t moved much in 30 years. So dairy farmers still collect 1980s prices but pay 2007 costs, Domina said.

Poultry farmers have also become harder to find, since the cost of raising chickens has risen steadily over the years, particularly after state regulations enacted following avian flu warnings, he said.

Still, the co-op’s silos and grain elevators on Apel Place churn and mix 6,000 tons of feed each month, all of which is fed to livestock on farms throughout this state, as well as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, southern Vermont and New Hampshire, and eastern New York. In all, some 600 members each buy at least $5,000 worth of feed a year from the co-op.

The co-op employs 37 people, about a dozen of whom work directly in manufacturing the feed.

One of the co-op’s higher profile members, for instance, is the coalition of Connecticut farmers behind Farmer’s Cow Milk, which is widely available in supermarkets throughout the state. Many of the cows milked by those farmers — from farms in Hebron and Coventry, among others — ate all-natural feeds bought from the co-op.

Still, the shrinking number of dairy and livestock farms in Southern New England has prompted innovation by the co-op, which is in the midst of two new ventures unlike anything they’ve done before: namely, energy and kitty litter. They’ve just started making both.

Source: Hartford Business
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