The Reafield farm in Cambridge, NY is run by Neal Rea and his wife Carol, their son Thane, their second son Travis, and his wife Karen. This is only right and proper because the Reas’ spread is a bicentennial farm and is now being worked by the eighth generation of the Rea family. Nobody expects it to stop there, and it’s somehow comforting to know that certain things are like “Old Man River” and just keep rolling along.
Neal was raised on the farm and recalls hearing stories of how milk was loaded in cans and then put on the train for Boston in the early 1900s. He has walked the walk and lived the ups and downs of life as a dairy farmer. He knows enough to take things in stride and keep a broad perspective.
Dairy farming is very competitive and part of a volatile industry. Says Neal: “The only way to make this work is to be systematic and efficient. You have to do everything economically, provide top quality feed for your cattle, and be aware of costs at every turn. You also need a relationship with your bank because we’re all in this for the long haul.” Wise counsel from a man who has not only learned hard lessons from working his entire life as a dairy farmer, but also serves as Chairman of the Board for Agri-Mark.
And Neal knows that dairy farming offers compensation far beyond dollars and cents. He knows dairy farming is not a path to riches, but it offers a lifetime of other rewards. “It’s no small matter to provide the greater community with healthy, nutritious food. And what a joy to work side by side on the farm with your family. Some things just defy measurement in money,” says Neal.