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Dairy Farmer Chooses South Carolina

It’s not a common practice, and especially wasn’t in the 1970’s, and that’s moving a diary farm. Marilyn Easter and her husband Glen own EastGlen Farm, near Laurens, SC. Back in the late 70’s, they moved their all registered Jersey milking herd from Vermont to South Carolina. Easter tells of the experience:

“It was a major move in which Glen actually asked me ‘Do you want to stay in Vermont or go to South Carolina to get the farm ready?’. I opted to come to South Carolina and get the farm ready. It took me two months as a single individual down here while he kept the farm going in Vermont and got it sold.”

And the major reasons for making the move:

“Two of the major reasons would be weather and the all Jersey milk market that was in South Carolina at that time.”

Plus, without space restrictions, they were able to expand their herd exponentially:

“It was a major difference. Here we are milking 300, there 75 was our limit because we were within an enclosed barn and you only had 75 stalls. Here, because our animals are housed out in mother nature, now our limit is 300. That is one of the major differences. Cow nutrition has changed over the years so production is greater with fewer cows, but when we moved here with a much lower herd average than today.”

The Easter’s enjoy working with the milking cows so much that they utilize other resources for other aspects of their farm:

“We do find it advantageous to have someone that does our heifer raising off site. We raise our calfs here until they are four months old and then he takes them until they are ready to come back into the milking system here. That allows us to dedicate all of our time to the love and care of the cows where our interest is. Our interest is not in the cropping side when we can purchase 100% of our feed and have it be a quality feed. We are not able to irrigate here so its advantageous for us to purchase our feed and work directly with the cows.”

Easter also works with young people and other segments of the public advocating and educating about agriculture:

“I’m very involved with 4-A and the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association and working with them on promoting milk. I do a lot of school tours and career days and am always speaking on behalf of agriculture. I am also on the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce Board which has been a great opportunity to spread the word on agriculture and especially on the Dairy industry. We now have an ag committee on the Chamber where we do an ag tour, and they are coming to East Glen farm this fall. It will give me the opportunity to show the community our industry .”

Easter sees marketing of milk products, and what the current system is doing to the industry as being one of the biggest hurdles for dairymen:

“Milk marketing has been the biggest challenge. In addition, the volatility of the market is a challenge. It would be wonderful if it was more stable because there are so many dairy farms going out of business. We need to make the consumer realize that we have been very fortunate in our country not to ever be without. I think there will be a major change here in the future with the number of farms that are going out and all of the challenges that the industry has as to being able to keep that supply of food to the public with the fewer people that are producing it.”

As far as changes in the diary industry, Easter explains that they’re vast:

”Nutrition and genetics. It used to be a farmer had one bull, but now we are able to use genetics from around the world. You have a lot of technology in the genetic area that you can utilize in your business. Science has come so far in the years we have been in the business. What was normal back then is so different that what is normal right now.”

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