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Commissioner Smith returns to the barn; the return will support the next generation of dairy farmers

April 10, 2012

Unexpectedly, Brain Smith, chairman of the Wayne County Commissioners, announced that he was returning to the barn and the milking of cows. The announcement came at the commissioners meeting on March 29.

He made a decision two years ago to get out of dairy farming, selling off his herd of about 50 cows. At the time, Smith, a former member of the board of Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), didn’t sell his barn or milking equipment, leaving an opening to return to dairy farming if he so wished.

He will continue to fill the office of commissioner, he said.

“The lifestyle of dairy farming has always attracted me so I’m going back into it to support my daughter and her husband who are ‘farm kids’ and want to be dairy farmers,” he said with some emotion. “I get all filled up when I think about it. When my daughter Chelsea told me that she and her husband, Theron Latourette, wanted to be dairy farmers I jumped for joy.”

Smith, realizing how difficult dairy farming can be, said that farming brings rewards that have a lot of appeal. His son-in-law agrees.

“The lifestyle attracts me,” Latourette said. “You work for yourself and work alone for the most part. You’re with your family all the time. You’re your own boss. It’s a great way to raise a family.”

Smith, who was not raised on a farm, did have some farming experience, helping his grandparents with their beef and horse farm outside of Honesdale.

“I got an electrical engineering degree from Penn State and went to work on atomic submarines in Newport News, VA,” he said. “I hated it. I returned home and worked as a technician at Wayne Memorial Hospital. After marrying Amy, we decided to get into dairy farming.”

Chelsea will continue her work as a nurse at Wayne Memorial but will pitch in regularly with the farm chores, Latourette said.

He said he realized that dairy farmers were experiencing hard times with the fluctuation of milk prices, but said that a decent living can be made, just the same.

“These two will not have a staggering mortgage hanging over them, will have lots of help from members of the family and the many friends that they have and they don’t have to buy expensive milking equipment since it’s already there,” Smith said. “If you’re going to do it, this is the best way.”

“There are so many dairy farms that closed down in recent years, that there are opportunities since there still is a need for milk,” Smith said. “The tipping point in all this will occur when there will be a shortage of good, safe food. That’s going to happen if things keep going the way they are.”