Richard Corey at his farm on Temple Road in Wilton. This is the last week his farm will house a dairy herd. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Nicole Carter

WILTON— After nearly 50 years of milking cows, Richard Corey and his wife Michelle Mosher have decided to exit the dairy business. Their herd of 40 dairy cows will leave their farm this Wednesday.

Corey shifted the farm’s business in 2009 to focus on organic milk, and for several years that market served it well. However, in the last five years he has seen a decline in average price per gallon of about 30%. Profits have further been hurt by unpredictable and fluctuating expenses.  Those unpalatable trends, coupled with health issues, led the couple to decide to sell their milk producers and downsize their operation. Some of the cows will be sold to another dairy farmer while others will be shipped to the organic meat market.

“We have always utilized the meat market as part of our farm management,” said Corey. “As a matter of fact, we will completely shift to selling beef going forward. Seasonally, that market slows down starting in September. It made sense that we rightsize our farm to our new model while we can maximize on the price of beef for this year.”

The farm was purchased in 1947 by Corey’s father, Leigh. The farm produced milk for four decades until the dairy herd was sold off in 1986. Corey spent the first part of his career focused on his graduate education and then spent several years working at the University of Maine at Farmington. In 2009 he returned to the family farm’s dairy heritage, selling his milk to a national organic brand.

Richard Corey, left, stands with his father Leigh at the start of his farming career. Submitted photo

“My estimate is that my girls produce over 600,000 pounds of milk each year,” Corey said of his cows, which equates to about 73,200 gallons. “Our herd has maintained that production, but with prices declining from a high of about $3.30 a gallon in 2015 to the current $2.25 a gallon, it just doesn’t make sense to keep doing it.”

He credits wife Michelle Mosher’s position as a hospitalist at Maine General in Augusta as being the main reason they’ve been able to stay in the business the last few years.

While the future will be milk-free, Corey said that he will continue to work the family farm. He will harvest hay and silage and raise a small herd for beef production.  Anticipating a little bit more freedom, he has joined the Board of Directors of the Wilton Historical Society and plans to actively preserve and write about the history of East Wilton, the community where he has lived all his life.

And to ensure their farm will always be in agricultural use, the couple is taking steps to preserve it under the Maine Farmland Trust program. When they are finally ready to call it a day, the farm will continue on.

 

 

 

 

 


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