Cash, Cows, and the Death of the American Dairy Farm
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of New Hampshire Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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Vermont’s early agricultural history was dominated by the farming of sheep, for the mills of New England required wool for spinning and weaving. But by the middle of the nineteenth century, sheep and wool production was on the decline, and Vermont’s fertile valleys and pasture-rich hills made the state an ideal ...
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I wrote this book because of an irksome incongruity. In the spring of 2009 I was driving my daughter eight miles every morning to daycare, and on the way I would listen to Morning Edition and the local news on Vermont Public Radio. Almost every day, it seemed, there was one story or another on the
1. Down and Out on the Farm
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He never thought it would come to this. “Are you Robert Simpson?” asked deputy sheriff Carrie McCool. “Yes.” “Did you bounce two checks to Feed Commodities, Mr. Simpson?” “Yes.” “Put your hands behind your back, sir. I need to ...
2. The First Dairy Farmers
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A young woman in Bavaria is digging in the dirt. It is a cool, cloudy day in the fall of 2010. Around her stretches the lush, rolling farmland of southeastern Germany: freshly cut hay fields dotted with white plastic hay bales. She takes a break, looks up, and notes the serenity in the air. Big, yellow earth-moving excavators ...
3. The Control of American Milk
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In 1769, Philip Ranney’s great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather, Benjamin Ranney, cleared a few rocky acres from a plot of rolling hillside in the southern Vermont hamlet of Westminster West. This makes Philip, a lanky, loquacious thirty-one-year-old with reddish blond hair, the seventh generation ...
4. Milk Gone Wild
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The American dairy industry is a sprawling, $150 billion per year business, with reams of statistics, charts, and graphs plotting every data point imaginable. Out of that noise, two signals rise to the surface: milk price and supply. They are closely related, of course, but treated very differently. Think of the ...
5. The Environment [Includes Image Plates]
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Tom Frantz is surrounded by milk, but you won’t find any in his refrigerator. “I’ve been suing and fighting this industry,” he says. “I’m not about to support it.” A retired high school math teacher, Frantz is tall and laid-back, with frizzy gray hair, a mustache, and tinted square glasses. He lives ...
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6. The Workers
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Early one morning in the spring of 2009, Jose Obeth Santiz Cruz awoke and dressed for the biggest adventure of his life. A fresh-faced nineteen-year-old with boyish Mayan features, he was born in San Isidro, a small town of lush hills in southwestern Mexico in the state of Chiapas, just a few miles from the Pacific coast. For a long time, the people of San Isidro grew and sold coffee ...
7. The Animals
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If you’re like most Americans, there’s a space in your brain reserved for the image of a dairy farm. You might not realize it, but there’s a battle raging for control of that space. In one corner is the animal rights movement, which wants you to picture pain and cruelty when you think of a dairy farm. In the other ...
8. Monopoly Money
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On a sunny day in mid-September 2009, during the depths of the dairy crisis of that year, hundreds of dairy farmers streamed into the city gymnasium in St. Albans, Vermont, to see a show. They came, young and old, weathered and ruddy, and sat down in folding chairs lined up on the polyurethaned ...
9. Grass-Fed, Free-Range, Streamline Baby
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Nobody knows when the last small dairy farm will milk its last cow; when the kinetics of consolidation and ruthless efficiency will defeat the inertia of tradition and community; when the worship of the Cheap will finally overtake our allegiance to the Good. Given the rate of farm loss in states like ...
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I first uttered my idea for this book to my friend Tom Zoellner on a quiet evening on the Dartmouth quad. An author himself, he paid no mind to the fact that I’d never before written a book. Instead he talked me through it, gave me encouragement and technical advice, ...
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Page Count: 278
Illustrations: 10 illus.
Publication Year: 2012