Drought squeezing Connecticut dairy farmers

ORANGE, Conn. (WTNH) — At a time when the low price of milk is putting a strain on Connecticut’s Dairy farmers, the weather is adding another layer of financial problems.

Dairy Farmers across the state are watching their hay crops dwindle to nothing due to the drought. It’s cutting into the typical feed for a dairy cow which eats about 20 pounds of hay a day.

Field View Farm in Orange, which has belonged to the Hine family since 1639, saw their hay crop dwindle.

“I never, since I been farming, I don’t remember it this bad, this dry” said Walter Hine,a 10th generation farmer.

A field on the farm that usually yields 3 crops of hay a year has dried out. This is the first year that Hine can not cut enough hay to feed his cows off his land.  Connecticut’s severe drought conditions have taken its toll.

“Our second cut was probably down 50% of volume,” said Hine. “The third cutting was probably nothing.”

Hine says they’ll have to buy more hay this year to feed their cows but they’ll make it through.

“This year we’re questionable,” said Hine. “We will survive thanks to the good people. We sell a lot of our milk retail, thank God.”

He worries about the dairy farms in the Eastern part of the state who have it especially hard.

“They won’t have anywhere near enough feed this winter and spring,” said Hine. “Just hope it isn’t like out West. They had to do away with a lot of them a year or two ago.  They couldn’t feed them.”

In addition to having to buy feed, the price of milk is down adding to the financial strain on dairy farmers. The federal government sets the price of milk based on many factors. Coming into play this year, is the strength of the American dollar, China reduced its imports of our milk and an overabundant supply of milk here in America.

So once again, as generations did before them, farmer’s will look to the weather and hope things get better.

“That depends on what kind of winter we have,” said Hine who says even the swamps around the farm are dry. “But the forefather’s always said, ‘You never get a winter until the swamps are full of water anyway.’ So, I don’t know what we’re going to get at this point.

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