Page 156 - The Hunt - Spring 2019
P. 156

                 Meredith Baily Parsons and sister Becky Baily (left) are generation four at the farm.
There’s life all around Bailys Dairy. West Chester’s John Walsh and his 10-year-old son, Trevor, are weekly visitors. “Trevor loves the cows, and the community here is so welcom- ing,” his dad says. “Trevor has autism, and this kind of thing gets him social. It’s all the senses, the smells, the touches.”
Things could really come to life if the Bailys’ instincts about A2 milk are correct. Close to half the family herd is already certified. GeneSeek, a division of Nebraska-based Neogen Genomics, is doing the A2 testing. At the time we spoke, GeneSeek was headed to Bailys for a tour. Testing is based on tail-hair samples.
The key to survival, the family says, is value-added product like its farm stand, its birthday parties—and, of course, plans for A2 conversion. “It’s the future,” Meredith says.
And that future has to be better than the present. In this country, more than 42,000 dairy farmers have gone out of business since 2000, according to a recent NBC News report. Most were the victims of an outdated business model, burden- some loans and aggressive corporate agri- culture. There were nearly 650,000 dairy farms in the U.S. in 1970. Just 40,219 remained at the end of 2017, according
to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cows are producing more milk than ever, but they’re concentrated on bigger, more efficient farms. Locally, the next nearest dairy operation belongs to the Wickersham brothers in Kennett Square, Pa. Bernard sums it up this way: “Where there were once 2,000 50-cow herds, now there’s
50 farms with 2,000 cows each.”
According to NBC News, farmers spend an average of $1.92 to produce a gallon
of milk, but they make just $1.32 when they sell it to processors. Last year was the fourth consecutive year that farmers’ milk prices dipped below production costs.
And still the Bailys milk on. Meredith, 35, lives at the farm. Becky, 31, and
her husband share a house in Pocopson Township that Bernard’s grandparents once owned. Bernard, 65, lives with his wife of 36 years, Jane, two miles north
on the 122-acre Davidson Farm, which was passed down on his mother’s side. It dates to 1809 and, like Pocopson Meadow Farm, is a recognized Century Farm in a state agricultural recognition program.
The family also rents acreage on Chester County parkland. Like the Davidson tract, the land is used for growing self-sustaining feed corn and grass pasture and raising young milking stock. There are 72 cows in the Bailys milking herd, and 200 in all.

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