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Letter to the editor: Farmers should stay positive

It’s easy to flip through the TV channels or scroll through social media or the internet and be hit with negative, upsetting and frustrating news. As a dairy farmer, I see and experience some of the same feelings hitting so many others right now, at my own local level.
But it’s easy to forget there’s much to be thankful for and to work towards in 2019. I’m a third-generation dairy farmer, and my family has been taking care of our animals and maintaining our lands along Lake Champlain in West Addison for 40 years. I’m proud of this legacy and want it to continue for years to come.
Yes, the price we get here on the farm for our milk is not good, it hasn’t been for several years now. It’s pushed some of our farming neighbors to the decision to cut their losses and sell off their cows — it’s frustrating to see hardworking dairy farmers go out of business, but it’s the reality we’re currently dealing with. The economics and financials for each farm are different, and each family must do what’s best for them.
Each farm does things differently. From the buildings and equipment used, to farming practices and the number of cows milked, each farming family runs their operation in their own unique way.
But every farm has some important similarities: we all take the best possible care of our cows, and we do everything in our power to protect our soils and waterways. These two pieces are at the heart of the nutritious milk we produce each day. And that is something that won’t change in the year ahead.
My brother Tim and I understand that each day brings a new challenge. We’re fortunate to work with so many partners who believe in the value of dairy farming; from our cow nutritionist, to our veterinarian, our dedicated employees, and many more. We believe in the future of Vermont dairy.
We see opportunities in the years ahead, and we’re ready to meet the difficulties head-on. As climate change mitigation and water quality protection become bigger focuses, we’ll continue to utilize practices that prevent runoff, increase soil health, and allow our crops to store more carbon on our fields in Vermont and Eastern New York. And we’ll strive each day to give our cows a healthy, happy, and comfortable home.
The recent government shutdown or the price for milk (set at the federal level), are just a few of the issues that are out of our control. It will take conversations at higher levels to influence changes on those scales.
What I can do is stay positive during the year ahead, support my fellow dairy farmers in Vermont and New York and work towards a better tomorrow.
I get up every day at 4 a.m., head out to the barn and feed our cows. I do it because I love it. I do it because I’m a dairy farmer and I’m following in the footsteps of all the farmers that came before me. I’ll continue to do everything in my power to keep open a path for future generations to be here on the farm.
I’ll keep working the farm and producing the wholesome milk you expect and deserve, and you keep drinking milk and enjoying the delicious options in your local dairy aisle.
Steve Kayhart
West Addison

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