Ray Wright's dad, Sam Jr., purchased The Wright Place Farm in 1956, and the family hasn't looked back since. Ray and his brothers Sam and Tom later formed a partnership with their dad, built their first free-stall barn in 1972, and continued to expand the operation until 1987, when they reached their current size. After Tom passed away and Sam retired, Ray formed a partnership with Sam's two sons, Brian and Steve, so the farm is now being worked by the third generation.
The Wright Place Farm has 2,000 acres, 800 milkers, and about 700 young stock. The Wrights are good at what they do, and the farm was recognized as Farm of the Year in 2003. The operation was reviewed by a board of previous winners and selected for the honor based on the herd quality, milk production, upkeep and appearance of the farm, as well as the family's involvement with the community and in the dairy industry generally. To that end, Brian is a regional representative for AgriMark and works closely with the Maine Dairy Association.
The Wrights are proud of their farm and host visitors on a regular basis. They often have school groups of young children who learn something about where their food comes from and who get treated to chocolate milk and Cabot cheese. The University of Maine is also a frequent visitor, and often sends groups of ten to twelve students for a full day to see the milking process, learn about crop management, and study feed and mix ratios for the cattle. Says Ray: "It's a great way to support the dairy industry and get the next generation interested in the land and in farming. It's a great part of the job."
The Wright Place Farm has 15 full-time and many seasonal employees. Jim, Ray's brother-in-law, has been working there for over three decades. The Wrights' core focus is dairy farming, but they are able to generate a few extra dollars by segmenting portions of their forested land and leasing them to pheasant and other hunting clubs in season. Ray says, "In times of low milk prices, you have to minimize costs at every turn and get revenues where you can. It's all part of the business."
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