JUNE IS DAIRY MONTH IN MASSACHUSETTS. THAT’S WHY I JOINED CONSTITUENTS AND DENISE BARSTOW FOR A TOUR OF HER FAMILY’S DIARY FARM IN HADLEY.
Denise is an 7th generation farmer. That means that her family has cared for the land they’ve farmed for over 210 years.
I met Denise and members of her family last summer during my campaign for State Senate. Their ideas are baked into legislation I filed. And the urgency I feel around passing these bills comes from the commitment I feel to the Barstow family and to the more than 300 farms in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district.
Dairy farms have long been the backbone of agriculture in the Northeast. Today, unfettered production and a wholesale pricing system that undervalues milk threaten this vital industry in our state — a quiet crisis that is changing local agriculture in ways that are invisible to most of us.
According to the A.A.P., 1-year-olds should drink about 16 ounces — but no more than 24 ounces — of whole milk each day. This ensures they reap the benefits of the dairy while still leaving room for plenty of other nutrients from foods. Milk is low in iron, for example, and drinking too much of it can block the absorption of iron from other foods, which could lead to a deficiency.
Why invest in mid-sized farms? Ecotrust’s research found that these operations may be pivotal to helping regional regenerative agriculture reach a meaningful scale. The Ag of the Middle program focuses on value-added operations because they have the greatest likelihood of being sustainable—environmentally and socially.
Farmers and ranchers across the country are dealing with increasing urbanization of rural America. With that urbanization brings challenges and opportunities. Hear from five Angus farm and ranch families, including: Lovin family, Lexington, Georgia; Marsh family, Huntley, Illinois, Stabler family, Brookeville, Maryland; and the Cropp family, Damascus, Maryland, about how urban sprawl has impacted them and American Farmland Trust CEO John Piotti about the issue as a whole.
“The prices are set by the U.S. government – the Department of Agriculture. The dairy farmer has no control over the price he gets for his milk,” said Dr. George Looby, who is a veterinarian and historian in Woodstock. With the price of feed and fuel going up, it’s been hard for family-owned dairy farms to keep up.