After 99 years, Thomas Dairy Farm in Rutland will close.
The pandemic put great pressure on the 110-acre farm with less business from schools, colleges, and restaurants.
“We were going along pretty good and then all of the sudden things took a bad turn,” said owner Richard Thomas.
In the early 1960s, Richard became the third-generation owner of his family’s farm. His almost century-old farm supplied 15 to 20 percent of Rutland businesses. But the Pandemic led to a 30% decline in revenue.
“That’s almost impossible to operate on that kind of a loss,” said Richard.
Thomas Dairy also applied for – and got – several grants, but those funds weren’t enough to keep the farm processing milk and cream.
Rene Thibault with the New England Dairy Association says dairy farm closures are part of a bigger chain reaction.
“To lose the retail sector, to lose schools, universities across the country, those are huge, huge segments of users of dairy,” said Thibault.
Thibault says thanks to local co-ops like Agri-mark and Dairy Farmers of America, the industry is doing better than expected. However, the pandemic has placed extra financial pressure on farms, and he says it’s always unfortunate to lose one.
“A century-old business like Thomas Dairy and the local farms that they work with, that they take milk from because obviously those farms are now having to find other places to send their milk,” said Thibault.
Richard says the decision was tough but necessary and one his 30 employees agreed with. He adds that pride in their products kept Thomas Dairy in business for nearly a hundred years.
“We’ve always tried to put quality first here. and we still do and we still will right up until the last day we operate…that’s what got us here I think,” said Richard.