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County AG Report: Maine Dairy Month

County AG Report: Maine Dairy Month
Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 8:23 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 10, 2022 at 3:08 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Governor Mills last week declared June “Maine Dairy Month”. While the month has always been promoted as national dairy month, Mills hopes that this move will help to support the local dairy economy. In this week’s County Ag Report, Rob Koenig learned more about the local dairy industry here in Aroostook County.

“A lot of things we do here, most people don’t do anymore. It’s still an old-fashioned way of doing it.”

Eric Lincoln has been the Plant Manager at Houlton Farms Dairy for many years. Founded in the 1930s, the company has been providing milk products to Aroostook and northern Washington counties. As one of the smaller milk companies in the state, Lincoln and his family have recognized the importance of keeping things locally owned and run.

“Our company is established here, so the other milk companies come here, and they sell but they don’t pay any real estate taxes … We support three towns, we own property in Houlton, Presque Isle, and Caribou.”

While smaller productions like this aren’t as common as they used to be, Lincoln believes his company is a puzzle piece in the bigger picture of the dairy economy here in Aroostook County.

“Well, it keeps dairy farms local, otherwise they’re going to transport their milk south to sell it. It supports other infrastructure like Veterinarians. If you still have dairy farmers, there’s a support staff for them, feed suppliers, people who come around and service them with chemicals. There’s a rippling effect.”

Lincoln mentioned they only have a few suppliers of their milk due to the decrease in dairy farming here in the county. With the industry smaller than it once was, specialized farms are becoming few and far between. While organic dairy has grown in popularity, Vaughn Chase, owner of Chase’s Organic Dairy in Mapleton says his type of farm isn’t as common as it once was.

“There aren’t too many farms like this anymore. We’re a grazing farm, our cows are on a rotation. They run all these different paddocks up through here. We have water in each place, so they have something to drink, and they’re pretty content out here, for the most part.”

Chase has been in the industry since he was a kid, and purchased the farm from his brother in 1999. Having worked on the farm this long, he knows why the month of June was originally declared national dairy month.

“The purpose of June being dairy month was to promote more dairy because the kids were getting out of school, and so the schools were taking less milk, and they wanted to get more sales going in June with dairy month. So that was the main reason for that... We’re hoping people continue to buy milk and buy more of it in the summertime.”

Chase went on to say that while he hasn’t seen an increase in sales since the declaration of national dairy month, he hopes that Maine Dairy month will help to promote local farms and products.

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