Governor gets firsthand look at farming struggles

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Governor Ralph Northam visited the Richlands Dairy Farm Monday to get a first-hand look at the farm’s future in celebration of Agriculture Week in the Commonwealth.

The Richlands Dairy Farm has been feeding and providing for more than 200 years but in the past four years, they have faced a new reality in their dairy production.

“This is our family farm, this is our heritage,” Coley Drinkwater said. “My family has been farming this land since the mid-1700s, we’ve been dairy farming since the 1950s. I’m a third-generation farmer.” 

Agriculture has been a central pillar of Virginia’s economy for centuries and continues to pave the way for smart growth and prosperity in rural and urban communities across the Commonwealth, Northam’s administration said in a release.

Northam and administration officials stopped by Richlands to highlight Virginia’s diverse agriculture sector and see how they can help.

“We just wanted to hear from them what we can do in Richmond to help their business,” Governor Northam said. “Make sure we lift up all of Virginia, including rural Virginia.” 

The farm says they are facing a dire situation as they are only one of two fams left in Dinwiddie County.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, that’s down from a total of seven farms in the county about 20 years ago.

Drinkwater said that with falling dairy prices they are looking at new ways to make up their profit.

“In a climate right now where dairy just continues to lose money,” Drinkwater said. “If we did not build this creamery we would be selling our dairy farm right now and dispersing as a family right now across the U.S.”

The new creamery will sell ice cream and help the farm get back some of the profit they’ve missed out on in recent years.

“Any opportunity that we can use the agricultural and forestry developments grant to help farmers with ideas, how they want to expand and diversify, we have those funds available,” Jewel Bronaugh and Bettina Ring with VDACS said.

Drinkwater said they have put everything up for collateral to back the project, including land, houses, cows, except the dog.

“We’re all in,” Drinkwater said.

The creamery is set to open in June. 

Throughout the week the governor and members of Northam Administration will be visiting sites across Virginia to highlight the variety of farming operations.

For more information about the Richlands Dairy Farm click here.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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