What is the secret to staying alive in the dairy industry?

Buckley Report
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Just because there’s still milk at the grocery store, doesn’t mean that dairy up the road is still thriving.

“Food just does not come from the grocery store,” says David Bowman, bluntly.

David and his brother, Chris, now run – along with Chris’ daughter, Paige Garland – the farm Paige’s great-grandfather began in the 1930s. But it’s hardly the same operation.

“It's unreal,” says Eddie Patrick, the Paige refers to as, “the guru,” because of his knowledge of the advanced science and methods of caring for the animals on their farm. “What we're doing today and what we did when I was a little boy - when I was a little boy, my daddy, he cooled cows under trees.”

Today, they get a fresh sawdust bed, every day, under a series of fans, sprinklers if needed and a diet designed specifically for their DNA by Purina scientist, Amanda Mitcheltree.

“I've love cows since I could walk,” says Amanda. Both of her sets of grandparents had dairy farms in western Pennsylvania. She learned the trade at Virginia Tech, but she’s seen what a downturn in prices since 2014 has done to the dairy industry.

“Honestly, the last two years have been very, very rough on the dairy industry, as a whole,” she notes.

Amanda is part of a program sponsored by Holstein breed farmers called the, “Young Dairy Leaders Institute,” that is designed to attract people between 22 and 45 years of age to work in the industry.

“It's hard but it's rewarding and it's hard to sell that,” says Paige.

Though life gets easier for the “employees,” so to speak – the ones producing the milk.

“Forty five minutes a day, they're being milked,” says Paige, then adds with a smile, “the rest of the day, they're eating, sleeping, gossiping, doing whatever they do.”

What the downturn in prices has done, though, is begin to drive farmers out of the businesses.

“I see it, every day,” says Chris Bowman. “I hear neighbors - close neighbors - saying they can't hold on. You either got to get bigger or get out.”

But bigger doesn’t necessarily mean more cows. See the secret to staying alive in the dairy game, in this edition of the Buckley Report.

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