Delmarva seeing a decline of dairy farms; the few left provide tips

On the Eastern Shore, a landscape once riddled with cows, is dramatically changing. 

Dairy farms across Delmarva are seeing a dip, dwindling down to the bare minimum. 

A retired farmer, Eddie Johnson tells us back in the the 1960's there was probably 50 or 60 dairies in Somerset County and now we don't have any. For Dorchester County, there's only a couple and the last remaining one in Wicomico County went out of business. 

These dropping rates are an utter disappoint to farmers who've invested hours of blood, sweat, and tears. 

Nice Farms Creamery in Caroline County is one of the last operations standing and they provide dairy products for Delmarva. This family owned business says it's no walk in the park – it's hard work and labor.

The creamery operator Bob Miller tells 47 ABC, "You got to be ready to work. There's a lot of regulations in what we do and it's no picnic to operate even a small creamery like this one and it's going to get worse so if you have to be ready to work 18 hours a day if you need to. Dairy is also heavily regulated, even if you don’t have a creamery just to sell raw milk to a milk cooperative you still have federal, state, and industry inspectors, it’s very expensive for that type of equipment."

And the reason why so many of these dairy farms have failed could also go hand in hand with the amount of money being invested. Besides tha, these small owned businesses are competing with mega farms. 

But the ones who are still afloat know it's going to take dedication to keep their business alive. 

"Your family is depending on you and that's something you got to make sure you are willing to do and because if you don't you will in debt yourself and fail," Miller says.

If those number of farms continue to fall, it turns out shipping or the amount of time it takes to get fresh milk could be affected but little else. Experts say California is still moving dairy. 

But besides that, we do still have several dairy farms that are thriving and they have plenty of advice for anyone looking to get into or maintain a successful business. 

They tell us it's labor intensive, which requires a lot of dedication and attention, so you have to be ready to work.

They also say that if you are selling independently, you need commitment from locals to support your dairy products. Beyond that, you need to do more than just sell milk and add on ice cream, cheese, or meat. 

We're told there are several reasons why certain operations have stayed successful but Nice Farms Creamery tells us it's truly the local support that's kept them going for all these years. 

Categories: Local News, Maryland