New Jersey’s dairy farms are in crisis

Cows

JILL P. CAPUZZO / NEW JERSEY MONTHLY – Since he started milking his neighbors’ cows at age 10, Jared Weeks knew he wanted to be a dairy farmer. At 12, he scraped together $2,100 to buy his first cow, a Brown Swiss. At 19, he rented land in Hunterdon County, near where he grew up, and bought 15 cows.

Today, Weeks has a herd of about 200 cows on 250 acres in Ringoes. He owns 82 of the acres and rents the rest from his wife’s family and from other owners who benefit from a farm-assessment tax cut on the land he works. At 32, Weeks is starting to question his career choice.

“The scariest part for me is seeing these guys who have been in the business for generations selling out,” he says. “These are good farmers, better than what I am. It makes me wonder, If they can’t hack it, how am I going to?” …

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