State Representatives Christopher Davis (R-57), Tom Delnicki (R-14), and Terrie Wood (R-141), State Senator Dan Champagne (R-35), and First Selectwoman Lori Spielman toured Oakridge Dairy with Owner and CEO Seth Bahler on Monday, September 16th.
Rep. Davis commented, “I was excited to invite my colleagues to Ellington. It is vital for the legislature to understand the importance of dairy farming not just for our town, but for our state as a whole.”
Oakridge Dairy is the largest dairy farm in the state with 50 employees caring for roughly 2,600 cows producing approximately 25,000 gallons of milk per day. In total, the farm covers over 3,000 acres across 8 towns with roughly half owned by Oakridge and the other half leased from local land owners.
Representative Delnicki noted, “The family farm is an endangered species in the state of Connecticut. It brings me great joy to see a successful family farm right next door in Ellington. Coming from a farming family, I can certainly appreciate the hard work and challenges that go into maintaining a successful farm like Oakridge Dairy Farm. We need to do everything we can to help farmers succeed in the state of Connecticut.”
The farm was started in 1890 and is now in its fifth generation of family ownership. In 1960 the farm switched to exclusively producing dairy. Between 2016 and 2017, Oakridge underwent a major redevelopment to build new state of the art facilities to last for the next 50 years of dairy production.
“Visits to farms like Oakridge Dairy allow us to connect with area farmers and learn what they need to succeed,” Sen. Champagne said. “Rep. Davis and I work together well, and we take what we learn from these conversations and use it to help improve state policies affecting farms. We thank everyone at Oakridge Dairy for the tour and for sharing with us the challenges they face. We will do all we can as legislators to help them grow their business and thrive in our state. We also love their slogan, ‘Where Happy Cows Make Great Milk!’”
“Another important focus of this visit was highlighting the potential of anaerobic digesters to produce power by capturing the methane from animal waste. Digesters are in use in other states producing energy and reducing the odor from animal waste,” said Rep. Davis. “This past session we passed legislation streamline DEEP requirements for solid waste facilities at animal feeding operations hopefully, reducing a road block to operating a digester.”
CEO Seth Bahler estimated that an anaerobic digester at the farm would produce enough power to supply the farm and upwards of 400 homes.
Oakridge Dairy has also recently entered the home delivery market, launching the “Modern Milkman” service that delivers fresh products directly to consumers. For more information about the company and its products please visit their website at www.OakridgeDairy.com.