The Long Family

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Brooks and Katie Long are the 2017 Young Cooperator Vice Chaircouple and members of Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association. They operate Long DeLite Farm in Williamsport, Md. The farm is a seventh-generation operation that has been in the family and at the same location since 1831. They milk about 60 cows – crossbred cattle, plus some registered Jerseys and Milking Shorthorns – on a rotational grazing operation, where the cows consume a majority of their forage from grass on paddocks on which they are moved around daily.

What do you like the most – and the least – about working as a dairy farmer?

The best parts about being a dairy farmer are being able to work with the cows every day and producing nature’s most perfect food. I also get to do many different jobs throughout the year, which breaks up any monotony of milking cows every day. My least favorite part would have to be the 24-7 commitment, although we make sure to take some days off throughout the year. It is also a struggle to work during times of low milk prices when we feel like our work is not valued enough.

Describe how the work on the farm is shared or divided up in your family?

Because we are such a small operation, it is pretty much an all-or-nothing job. I am the sole full-time operator, so I oversee all milking, field work and pasture maintenance/repair. My dad Galen helps with the daily milkings and field work when he is not at his off-farm job. Katie takes care of the daily calf feeding, and the kids pitch in with calf feeding and milking, as well.

How do you think your farm’s business plan will change 10 years from now?

We are already working on some business changes as we work on starting on-farm processing and a farm store. While the industry moves more toward large-scale, high-efficiency dairy operations, we are not in a position to grow our operation, and believe our best option is for direct marketing. We hope to have Deliteful Dairy up and running within the next year.

During those days when things aren’t going well, what do you do to keep a positive attitude?

We always try to stay positive, as that is the only thing that can keep you going some days. We always know that tomorrow is another day and there will always be that new heifer calf or rain shower you really needed. This job changes every day, so it’s easy to shake it off and hope for a better day tomorrow.

What would you be doing if you were not a dairy farmer?

That is a tough question because I’ve never really wanted to do anything else. I’m pretty sure I would be involved in agriculture in some way as either an AI technician, working at a feed mill or even working in extension with 4-H.