cows in field

To the NODPA Executive Director

Letter to the Editor

Hello Mr. Maltby,

I recently received the current paper edition of NODPA News [January, 2016] and read with interest the article about the young couple focused on building a life for themselves on the dairy farm in the NE Kingdom. At 64 years old, I have learned that it is human nature to complain, and that farmers are not immune from this.

However, as someone who had prior dairy herdsman and farm experience, who did not have access to farmland via family or net worth, and who qualified for an FHA loan in 1975 to start a 40-cow organic dairy on a recently retired dairy farm, the terms I received were so vastly different and onerous that the assistance available to, and earned by the young couple, and the market for organic milk and milk check equally more favorable in 2016 than in 1975, that I would like to provide a brief letter to NODPA readers, particularly the young folks starting-up, that provides them with a sense of perspective of just how high the shoulders are that they are stepping onto. In my humble opinion, the time is long overdue for organic dairy farmers, young and old, to step up to the bat, express gratitude for the vast improvement in the economics of organic farming over the past 40 years, and focus on infusing their clear thinking and solid morals into the American society.

In my case, I chose not to take a loan that projected enough funds to purchase the old farm, a good dairy herd, and older, serviceable equipment necessary to provide sufficient cash flow if I worked 7 days per week, without any hired-help, without any health care insurance for 7 years, at which time I could generate enough money to either acquire health insurance, hire help for 2-days per week, or replace totally worn out equipment, and in 12 years have enough cash flow to have health care, hired help for 2 days a week and take Sunday evenings off in the winter.

Instead I bought a team of Belgians, moved to Maine, and logged with the horses for 7 years and earn, with work far more rugged and dangerous than dairy farming (based on my 42% workers comp insurance rate, and my small dairy farmer friends’ 25% rate), a net income of at least minimum wage every day I worked before moving back to the Finger Lakes, and being able to buy our 225 year old farm we worked hard enough to have certified biodynamic, and on which we raised our children.

Thank you,

Charlie Greene PE
Forest Engineer
Moravia, NY 13118