By Cleve Bryan
SOUTHAMPTON, N.J., (CBS) – One of Burlington County’s last two remaining dairy farms has called it a day.
“I wanted to cry, I still want to cry. It’s just a big chunk of my life gone,” says 15-year-old Calista Shontz after her grandfather sold all but a few of his roughly 200 cows this week.
“If I had my druthers there’d still be cows here but I couldn’t see no other way,” says Wayne Shontz who spent his entire life a dairy farmer.
His Sunny Red Farm on Birmingham Road in Southampton was one of the last two dairy farms in Burlington County. His neighbor Charlie Davis owns the last one.
“Records show in 1925 there were more than 1,400 dairy farms in Burlington County,” says Ray Samulis the agriculture agent for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Burlington County.
Samulis says there are a variety of factors that shut down the local dairy industry in Burlington County.
Though milk prices are set for the most part nationally, the local cost of corn and other feed sources fluctuate dramatically – making profit margins slim or non-existent at times for dairy farmers.
“You know it’s kind of hard to put in a 100 hours a week into something your losing money on,” says Samulis.
Wayne Shontz says his biggest reason for getting out of the dairy business is the lack of support.
“There used to be kids and other people who would come by looking for work but we haven’t seen that in 20 years,” says Shontz, “there’s not enough people to do the work.”
He says finding people to fix equipment requires calling help from out of state.
Aside from some dairy strongholds remaining in Salem and Warren Counties, Samulis says milk production is coming from large scale farms in Pennsylvania and New York.
Shontz had hoped to pass his herd down the family line.