Starksboro’s Arthur Clifford inducted in Vt. Agriculture Hall of Fame

STARKSBORO — The Clifford family of Starksboro has been running its dairy farm in Vermont almost as long as Vermont has been a state.
“Our dairy farm was founded in 1807. We’re one of the longest running dairy farms in Vermont and we’re proud of the contributions we’ve made in our community over the years,” said Jane Clifford, who runs the farm with her husband, Eric, the eighth generation.
The late Arthur Clifford, Eric’s father and the seventh generation to run the farm, was recently recognized for his contributions to the Vermont dairy industry and inducted posthumously to the Vermont Agriculture Hall of Fame at the Champlain Valley Fair.
“There’s a lot of great history in Vermont and agriculture has been here forever — we want to educate and remind people who these folks were,” said Jackie Folsom, Champlain Valley Exposition chairwoman.
Arthur dedicated his life to the Clifford Farm and was known for being a progressive forward thinker. In 1967, the New England Dairy & Food Council hosted a press event for 30 members of the media from Boston at the Clifford farm. “The choice of the farm was a good one, for there is not a more modern, more scientific, more efficient dairy operation in all the north country,” wrote the editor of the Northern Milk Producer.
In 1954, Arthur designed a tree-planting machine out of parts from a mower and a truck, which he used as the farm diversified into Christmas trees in the 1960s. He was involved in the soil bank program and assisted neighbors in learning about the need to stop soil erosion.
Arthur kept the emphasis on management — his objective was to keep the operation simple so that two men could run the 85-cow farm, except during silo filling.
“New barns are expensive, animal breeding costs money and time,” he said, “but it’s the only way to make quality milk and a profit.”
His friends and family know there was another reason for efficiency — he and his wife liked to ski and for 55 years they made the time to visit Mad River Glen during the winter.
The family welcomed visitors to their farm including the media, future farmers and tourists, who were treated to a tour of the innovations Arthur was incorporating on the farm including moving from a stanchion barn to free-stall barn where the cows could walk around freely.
Recognition of his work came in many forms; he was involved in the Future Farmers of America, earning the degree of State Farmer in 1941 and American Farmer in 1943. In 1969, the Clifford farm won the Green Pastures Dairyman of the Year award for Vermont. Elmer Towne, commissioner of agriculture, wrote that Clifford “is a good crop man, a good cow man and an outstanding business manager.”
In 1982, he was awarded the Outstanding Tree Farmer of Vermont and in 1988 the Vermont Conservation Farmer award; his work in forestry included planting trees, harvesting maple syrup and clearing trails for firewood.
Arthur was also involved in his local community, where he served a combined 35 years in the roles of moderator and select board member.
Arthur passed away in April of this year at the age of 91. Today, Eric and Jane work to continue his legacy and strive to be good stewards of the more than the 1,100 acres of cropland and forestland that has become Clifford Farm.
Jane said, “It’s our sense of identity, and with it comes a huge responsibility — dairy farming is the backbone of agriculture in Vermont.”

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