Mike Barnes purchased the Cobar Dairy LLC in Mount Upton, New York in 1978, and even though his family farms 350 acres and has over 200 cattle, he is still a relative newcomer in the eyes of some dairy farmers. After all, what are mere decades when some farm families have worked their farms for two centuries or more? Dairy farming has deep roots and many time-honored traditions.
Well, in Mike's case, the years since 1978 have been more than enough time to get the lay of the land. Mike's two sons and daughter were raised on the farm, and after helping to run a farm out West, his younger son returned to The Barnes Farm to help run things closer to home. And so a new generation is now onboard.
Mike loves running his dairy farm despite the long hours, hard work, and relentless pressure to be efficient. In fact, he may love it because of those things. But, what Mike doesn't love is government regulations and the volatility of milk prices. Says Mike: "You have to be resourceful to make a living in this industry. Hard work and long hours don't guarantee success."
When asked if there were any message Mike would like people to know about dairy farming, he said: "Yes. We have to give our dairy farmers a break, and we can't have government setting prices below the cost of production. It simply makes things impossible. It hurts the individual farmer, it hurts the industry, and it will hurt the country in the long run if things stay this way." And Mike knows a thing or two about government regulations and the broader challenges dairy farmers face every day. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors and is the Secretary for Agri-Mark. At the end of the day, "we all have to work together to make this a viable and vibrant industry," says Mike.