With over 90,000 milk cows in the state, Vermont ranks first among the New England States for milk production. The lush, green scenery and pictorial mountains attract visitors to the state each year, as well as the opportunity to ski some of the best slopes and sample some of the tastiest maple syrup in the country. While many travelers visit Vermont for these attractions, others travel to see first-hand the hardworking men and women that operate dairy farms in the state. There are over 7,500 people directly employed within some aspect of the Vermont dairy industry, and helping to contribute to the state’s reputation as a community supported, agricultural-minded state.
Vermont’s largest dairy cooperative, St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, Inc. handles over three million pounds of milk every day, coming from over 463 member farms. Founded in 1919, the cooperative has maintained profit over the past 80 years and expanded its facilities to accommodate the addition of more milk being shipped to the plant. All of the milk that is received and processed at the cooperative is held to the standard of being rBST free. The cooperative also operates a store where members and other dairy farmers can purchase all of their farm needs, while at the same time supporting the growth of the St. Albans Cooperative.
Headquartered in Brattleboro, VT, Holstein Association USA, Inc. is the world’s largest dairy cattle breed organization. Catering to the interests of over 20,000 active adult members and 8,000 junior members, the office oversees the registration of Holstein cattle, as well as administering the classification, TriStar production, and Holstein Complete programs. Holstein Association USA also helps to run the National Junior Shows held throughout the year and with the planning of the annual National Holstein Convention. These events are some of the highlights for staff and members of the association, and are anxiously anticipated as the time approaches for them to begin.
Additionally, operating within the office is the Holstein Foundationwhich helps to engage youth through opportunities such as dairy quiz bowl, dairy jeopardy, and publishing workbooks ranging from dairy cattle nutrition to dairy judging. The Holstein Foundation is also responsible for the popular Young Dairy Leader’s Institute that attracts enthusiastic young adults (ages 22-45) from across the world to participate in leadership, professional development, and industry geared workshops. This past March, Phase I of III was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with over forty participants attending the event.
As purveyors of high quality, delicious cheese, Cabot Creameryis a favorite of consumers of all ages. Located in the small town of Cabot, VT, with two other locations in Waterbury and Quechee, the creamery operates as a cooperative among dairy farmers in New England and New York. There are over 1,200 family farms that are active in the cooperative and supplying milk to the Cabot plants. Known for their award-winning cheddar cheese, Cabot produces many varieties of cheddar and specialty cheeses, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, whipped cream, dips, yogurt, as well as their newest product lines of Greek style yogurt and spreadable cheddar. A personal favorite of mine is the Tuscan cheddar cheese...definitely worth trying the next time you travel to the grocery store!
Another unique aspect of the Vermont dairy industry is Shelburne Farms, which features a historic, educational museum and working farm. With the property bordering Lake Champlain, and only a short drive from the University of Vermont campus, the farm and museum draw many visitors each year to dine at the restaurant, learn about farming, or hold an event. The Inn at Shelburne Farms is also a popular location for weddings, where the bride and groom may look across the property and see the tranquil waters of Lake Champlain and in the opposite direction, Brown Swiss cattle grazing in the green pastures. Under the Shelburne Farms brand logo, cheese, maple syrup, meats, mustards, pancake mix, and much more is produced. There is truly something for everyone, from young adults to grandparents, at Shelburne Farms to enjoy.
Other notable attractions in Vermont include the Ben & Jerry’s factory, Billings Farm & Museum, and Farm-Way Inc. to name a few. However, simply hearing about these great places does not do the state justice, so plan a trip to the Green Mountain State to experience some of these wonders yourself!