The first story in this series talks with Brooks Rynd of Rynd Home Farms near Cochranton on Route 322.
Reducing production at Rynd Home Farm amid reports of milk dumping
He is optimistic that this year won't be as bad, but he says he admits the future is uncertain.
Rynd has already had to reduce milk production by 15%, as have many others.
"You'd be surprised how much cheese restaurants use," he said citing the stay-at-home orders have slowed the demand. Schools too being shut down has cut the need for more milk.
Rynd said there has been an over supply of milk for awhile keeping the price for the farmer's milk at a very low rate.
He said the last year prices had been up a little, but with the market down again and demand not keeping up with supply, millions of gallons of milk have been dumped.
The recent price drop leaves less money to run the farm.
Since the cows must still be milked measures have to be taken. Rynd sold off a few cows and doubled the number of dry cows or those not currently producing milk.
Dry cows still need to be fed and housed. They become an overhead expense that isn't helping with the bottom line.
And farms need equipment and that equipment still needs to be maintained.
"We're all just trying to hold things together," Rynd said as he tightens the farm's belt. He said weathering a couple of months is one thing but the unknown makes it difficult.
"There isn't one aspect of agriculture that knows what is next," he said.
The government subsidies recently passed haven't made their way to the local farmers and Rynd say he has no idea what they will even look like. They could be subsidies or they could be loans, he just doesn't know yet.
"Maybe the government can put more food into the food bank," he questioned. That would help increase the demand again.
Rynd said if the entire industry cut back on production, it would be a financial hit at first, but "in the long run I believe it would right the ship and get our prices back on track." But he said many have been talking for years about implementing a supply management system and it hasn't happened. "The big guys don't like the idea," he said leaving the small farmers to go on a roller-coaster ride each year.
"If only 50 farms cut back it won't mean much," he said.
Its different for every farm. Each farm has its own debt, its own overhead and its own maintenance costs. Though Rynd's farm has been in the family for generations they have made improvements and have debt to still pay off. Rynd said he's hopeful things will get back to normal sooner than later.
"At least we're still working. We have some income. We're lucky that way, everybody is in rough shape."
For now here is a slideshow of some of the cows at Rynd Home Farms. If you're anything like me you'll love trying to figure out what they're thinking.
New Love Notes series looking for submissions
Since starting this blog, I’ve talked to numerous people trying to find ways to stay connected to their love ones during special times in their lives, like birthdays and graduations. After posting about one such act of love, a reader reached out with a story about her daughter’s recent engagement.
I realized there are so many stories of love recognizing no barrier and arriving full of hope that I have no way to track them all down myself. But I remain inspired to provide an outlet to share as many as I can.
Therefore, I have started a new feature called Love Notes.
Readers can send in short stories and pictures about their own acts of love or ones they they witness. I do ask that the stories are recent(though if you have a very cool not recent story send it too!) and everyone listed or pictured is aware of the submission for possible posting on the website and social media accounts for Eight&322.
Submission can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or as a direct message to the Richard Sayer Photojournalism Facebook page.
If I get enough stories I will make this a weekly feature
The first Love Notes submission came from Linda Skelley, mother of 2017 Taste of Talent winner Lauren Skelley. Linda wrote the following: Lauren’s “boyfriend of almost a year, Jeff Grey, was planning a big proposal but then COVID-19 interrupted his plans. Instead of waiting for the closures and quarantine to be over, he decided to "pop the question" on Easter Sunday. I was the photographer and decided to do a photo doing a "pandemic-style" proposal.”
“We were having a little fun. He did the real proposal sans masks and gloves.”
Thank you for sharing Linda. I look forward to reading and posting more stories in the coming weeks, so make sure to send them my way.
NOTE: Submissions can show love of any kind, not all submissions will be published but those with compelling or fun stories will make us all feel better during this time.
Crawford County teachers hold friendly contest to raise money to help
New Feature coming this week: Featured Artist of the month
Jodi is an avid documentor of days. With her phone camera seemingly always turned on, she stops often to witness life around her and make beautiful images.
I asked her if she would be my first "Artist of the Month" and she said yes.
So starting this Friday I will feature some of Jodi's work every Friday running through the month of May.
During this time I will be looking for the artist to feature in June, maybe a painter?
Ideas are always welcome.