Portsmouth's Escobar Farm Named RI's 2012 Outstanding Dairy Farm of the Year
Winning dairy farmers from each New England state will be honored at an awards banquet in September at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA.
The Department of Environmental Management announces that Escobar Farm in Portsmouth has been named Rhode Island's 2012 Outstanding Dairy Farm of the Year by the Rhode Island Green Pastures Committee. Winning dairy farmers from each New England state will be honored at an awards banquet in September at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield,MA.
The Rhode Island Green Pastures Committee chose Escobar Farm because of its outstanding relationship with the community, use of good management practices (both production and financial), and commitment to ensuring a viable agricultural industry onAquidneck Island. Escobar Farm previously won the Green Pastures award in 2001.
Escobar Farm, owned by Louie and Jane Escobar, was started by Louie Escobar's father in 1937. Louie helped with farm chores as a youngster and continued working the farm until he took over in 1972. Today, the Escobars milk 95 cows on their 98-acre farm and raise another 80 young stock on the farm that will enter the milking herd once they reach two years of age. The Escobars also rent several parcels of land in the local community on which they farm.
In 2005, DEM in partnership with the state Agricultural Land Preservation Commission, Town of Portsmouth, The Nature Conservancy, and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service acquired development rights to 75 acres of the farmland, permanently protecting the land from development.
In addition to the farm, the Escobars operate an artificial insemination company serving dairy farms in the East Bay area of Rhode Island as well as Southeastern Massachusetts. The family is an active member of Agri-Mark, the regional dairy cooperative which owns the Cabot brand, which picks up their milk every day and markets it to customers in southern New England. Part of their milk is also sold locally under the Rhody Fresh brand in conjunction with seven other local farms.
Louis Escobar was a founding member of Rhody Fresh Milk and currently serves as president of Rhody Fresh. He put up his farm for collateral so that Rhody Fresh could borrow $125,000 to start the dairy cooperative. Today, Rhody Fresh is thriving and its many products can be found throughout the state in large grocery stores and small neighborhood markets, as well as restaurants, colleges and universities.
The Escobars are known as farmers who often open their farm to visits from local schools and people from the local communities that surround their farm. The family is very active with their local 4-H chapter which introduces young people to agriculture. The farm, run in an environmentally sound manner using best management practices, is surrounded by suburban homes and appreciative neighbors. It is one of 16 dairy farms remaining in the state.
“We’re truly honored to win this award, knowing the history of Green Pastures Award and the many great farms that have won the award before us,” says Louie Escobar. “We’ve always tried to do the best that we could with our land and our animals. One of the benefits of farming in suburbia is that we have been able to reach out and touch so many people in our local community and put them in direct touch with agriculture and dairy farming. It’s real important if you are in dairy farming that you do it for the love of what you do, because sometimes it is not as financially rewarding as people think,” continued Louie. “It’s a challenge to take care of your animals every day, feed them, milk them and make a profit. But there are other parts of farming on which you cannot put a dollar value. I guess it’s the pleasure and love for our animals, our family and for what we are doing that keeps us going even through the toughest times.”