It is no secret here, the killer is the creameries refusing to pick up milk citing transportation issues between farms spaced so far apart. But if you have 10 small farms, that is the reason...there are still farms to pick up milk at in close proximity. As is, last month a local creamery shut its doors forever; Garalicke Farms out of Bangor. Ours is now heading to Oakhurst in Southern Maine.
The funny thing here is, we have gone from 400 farms down to 180, BUT production in Maine milk has stayed the same; less farms just the ones that survived have had to get bigger, and because of technology and better feed management, cows are producing twice what they used to. It is going up some more too, and you would be surprised, it has nothing to to with artificial growth hormones because no farm that I know of, uses that here in Maine. Mostly it is about the quality of feed, and cow comfort.
As for the Amish; they are different because (here anyway) their only customers are Amish within their own Amish community. One farm that went organic, does deliver their small farm milk to area stores and sell it locally, only because Maine is one of 8 states that allows the sale of unpasteurized milk.
Our main challenge is the price of grain. With 40% of corn production going into ethanol, we are getting hammered with quadruple grain bills from that of a few years ago. Even in Iowa though, they understand that ethanol derived from corn is a short term proposition and are investigating ways (as is the University of Maine) to get ethanol from other sources. For instance, a one acre corn field gets about 400 gallons of ethanol, but a one acre pond of cat tails generates 650 gallons of ethanol and does not require using land that can be used for food to grow. In fact, Minnesota alone can provide for up to half of the ethanol currently needed in this country for the ethanol requirement without adding additional acres of cat tail production. Needless to say, other states could easily generate the rest to meet the requirement. It is just a matter of time before America realizes, using corn to drive around with, is just plain dumb. When it takes 1.2 gallons of fuel to make 1 gallon of ethanol, the math is just not right.