than Pennsylvania and New York. So
while Jersey dairy farmers would love
to wrap themselves in the state’s Jersey
Fresh branding campaign that promotes
Jersey fruits, vegetables and other farm
products, the comingling of milk rules
It’s especially frustrating because Jersey
Fresh could give dairy farmers a lift. Just
before the summit, NJDA assessed consumer attitudes about Jersey Fresh milk.
Beaver says 85 percent of those surveyed
said they would be interested in buying
such a product.
Joe Calilillo, who owns five ShopRite
supermarkets in New Jersey and Pennsyl-
vania, says the Jersey Fresh label has been
extremely helpful in selling
local produce at his stores.
“If we could produce milk from a local
farm, I think there would be a market for
it,” Calilillo says. “People want to support the local farmers. They see them as
neighbors, and it’s something tangible.”
One of the more pressing topics at the
summit was the stranglehold the processors have on Jersey milk. Farmers are not
required by law to sell their milk to processors, but as a practical matter, most
can’t afford to do their own processing
and bottling, let alone distribution.
So far, only one New Jersey farm,
Springhouse Creamery in Fredon, is doing that, albeit on a small scale. Springhouse is owned by Peter Southway, a
former commercial banker who retired
from the corporate world 15 years ago to
start a dairy farm with his wife and six P H
yla, fourth and fifth
ation farmers, have
d farm tours, which
n end with visitors
ying cheese and
the production of milk byproducts.
Mikayla Fulper, the 23-year-old herd
manager of Fulper Farms, attended the
dairy summit with her father, Robert
Fulper II, who runs the 1,100-acre
farm in Lambertville with his brother
Fred. Mikayla, who is among the fifth
generation of Fulpers to milk cows in
Hunterdon County, has helped steer the
109-year-old farm into the new revenue
streams the state has been championing.
A few weeks after the summit, on a
grey, blustery Saturday, when most of
New Jersey was being threatened by
a Nor’easter, Mikayla was leading two
families on a tour of the farm.
“We dehorn the females at birth
because they can hurt each other or get
themselves stuck in a bad situation,”
she said, explaining why a calf born
hours earlier was wearing a cap of silver
duct tape on her head. “We put a salve
on to prevent horn growth, and the tape
is there to make sure it doesn’t spread to
the other calves.”
The tour ended in the 60-year-old
milking parlor, where Mikayla deftly at-
tached suction cups to each cow’s four
udders, starting the automated milking
process that takes five to seven min-
utes per cow.
In addition to being in charge
of more than 200 animals on the
farm, Mikayla handles most of the
tourist activities, including a farm
adventure camp each summer, and
helps sell the cheese and yogurt the
family produces, multiplying the value
of its milk.
But as engaged as she is with her
visitors, the recent Penn State grad is
clearly most in her element with the
105 cows that line up twice a day to be
milked. As she speaks, she pats black-and-white Sassy on the head and lets
Sassy’s long tongue lick her jacket.
“I’m passionate about tourism, but
slightly more passionate about the
cows,” says Mikayla, who expects to one
day take over the farm with her brother,
RJ, who oversees the crops.
Almost all milk produced in Jersey is
sold to one of three in-state process-
ing plants. Each processor comingles
it with milk from neighboring states.
Beaver says this is necessary because
New Jersey produces much less milk
children. Every day at 4: 30 AM and again
at 4: 30 PM, Southway and his family can
be found in their 1930s barn milking their
52 Holstein and Jersey cows, which pro-
duce about 275 gallons of milk a day.
Last February, seeking more control
over his end product, Southway purchased bottling equipment and a pasteurizing machine to kill pathogenic bacteria.
He pasteurizes to levels just above the
minimum required by the state. (Unlike
Pennsylvania and 11 other states in the
country, New Jersey does not allow the
sale of raw, or unpasteurized, milk.)
The milk is sold in glass bottles at
a roadside stand next to the barn. The
stand operates on an honor system. The
family also delivers bottles to about 15
stores in the area.
The milk sports a thick layer of cream
on top because it is not homogenized. If
you want whole milk, just shake it up.
Southway says skipping the vigorous mechanical homogenizing process, which
vastly reduces the size of the fat globules,
makes the milk easier to digest. Scientifically, it’s an unproven claim, but Southway’s aims are nonetheless admirable.
“We’re trying to deliver a product right
from the cow, and that is very fragile,”
explains Southway, 58. “We don’t pump
it a lot, and we heat it to the minimum
temperatures for the least amount of
time allowable. We don’t add anything to
it or take anything away.”
The milk—chocolate or regular—sells
for $7 a gallon, with all proceeds going to
the farm. By comparison, Southway would
receive just over $1 a gallon for milk sold
to a processor. “We set our price, we don’t
get a price set for us,” he says, noting that
consumers today are willing to pay more
for a fresh, natural product.
Southway says he invested $150,000 to
launch his pasteurizing and bottling operation, saving some money because he already had a building and some equipment
in place for the farm’s cheese making.
For Weeks to build a bottling site at his
Ringoes farm would, he estimates, cost him
twice that amount, and possibly as much as
$400,000. That is money he does not have.
Weeks grows all his own feed for his
cows and earns extra money by selling
leftover crops. But he loses money on every gallon of milk he produces. Lately, the
milk checks—issued by the processing
plant have hovered around $14 for every