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Dairy Farmer's Bid on Prized Cows as Market Declines

People from all over the world were focused on an East Montpelier Dairy Farm on Friday.
EAST MONTPELIER, VT- People from all over the world were focused on an East Montpelier Dairy Farm on Friday.

Prized cattle were up for auction.

The closing is also an eye opener for other local farmers.

Lyle Haven is known for it's holstein breeding, some even call their cows the best in the world.

More than 150 were sold on the auction block, a bittersweet day for Farmer Jerry Rappaport who's devoted 40 years of his life to breeding prizewinning cattle.

Jerry Rappaport said
,"It was a dream to accomplish this, to some extent that dream is being fulfilled, the unfortunate outscome of that is tomorrow the farm is going to be empty."

Some could say the now 87-year-old farmer is a pioneer in the holstein breeding industry, with a number of national championships under his belt.

Other dairy farmers said it's an honor to own one of his cows.

Michael Garrow said, "It means a lot to me, it's a memorable thing, and it'll be something i'll always remember the rest of my life."

But soon the barn will be empty, and the 900 acres around it is up for sale.

Lyle Haven Farm isn't closing because of financial problems, but because the owner said it's time.

However the same can't be said for other Vermont dairy farmers.

Bradford, VT Farmer Robert Miller said he's at the auction out of curiousity.

He too is planning to sell off his livelihood

"The price of grain is through the roof, the price of fuel is high. It just makes it very difficult to make a living, and in our situation, our taxes, our property taxes take up too big a percentage of our milk check to justify staying in business," said Robert Miller.

Another challenge is younger generations are choosing not to carry on the family farm.

"When I was a little kid, I'd always thought i'd take over it, but you know farming is wicked hard right now. I see any reason why to waste my life making no money," said Robert Miller Jr.

At last count in 2013, there were 993 dairy farms left in Vermont according to the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council.

About 350 less than reported10 years earlier.

"There's an unfortunante circumstance that some of the dairy farmers are finding it be the right time to transition out of dairy. But we're also seeing a lot of those dairy farmers' land being picked up by other dairy farmers, and by other farmers," said Chuck Ross from the Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Food and Market:

Governor Peter Shumlin also stopped by the auction to encourage the state's farm community.

He said although Vermont is seeing fewer farms, the same amount of land is being tilled.

He points out more Ag-Related businesses are laying roots in the state that aren't necessarilly farms.

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