Farming is never easy work and the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t made things any easier for farmers like Dylan and Lacey Barber.
The couple, who own a dairy farm in Marathon, have had to deal with falling milk prices since the pandemic began.
On Saturday, though, they received some good news; they were presented with the Dairy of Distinction award from the Cortland County Dairy Promotion Committee, part of the Dairy Farm Beautification Program.
“We’re honored,” Dylan Barber said. “It’s a great thing to get, especially in today’s dairy markets. It’s kind of hard to find positive things to look up to.”
The award recognizes dairy owners and operators who have attractive, well-kept farms and promote a good dairy industry image, according to the committee. All active dairy farms in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont are eligible to receive the award, given in Cortland County as part of a seven-county region.
Recipients of the award receive a Dairy of Distinction lawn sign.
The Barbers’ farm, which the couple have owned for seven years, sends the milk from its 40 cows to processors of the Dairy Farmers of America, and then it usually ends up at Kraft or Hood plants to become any number of products.
Tess Southern, chairwoman of the committee, said committee members inspect the farms and compare how well kept their surroundings and buildings are. Cleanliness of the dairies are also taken into consideration.
For Dylan Barber, who grew up farming, receiving the award has been a goal.
“It’s just being good stewards of the farm and making things presentable for a good public image,” he said. “That’s something us dairy farmers do every day, so it’s really not anything out of the normal.”
To receive the award next year, the farm will have to be rejudged as well, Southern said. If it does win it next year, and for years following, the couple will receive a sticker that shows how many years the farm received the award.
So what will it take for the Barber’s farm to receive the award again next year?
“It’s just stuff we’re doing every day so just keep on keeping on,” Dylan Barber said.