Dairy tour an utter pleasure for State Ag. Commissioner

The Greenfield Recorder, June 20, 2017, by Shelby Ashline

LEYDEN — Standing before mooing cows wandering the grassy fields Tuesday, Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux looked out over Leyden’s rolling hills.

“It’s really a pleasure to get out here today,” he said, admiring the landscape surrounding Bree-Z-Knoll Farm.

Having proclaimed June Massachusetts Dairy Month, Lebeaux and Assistant Commissioner Jason Wentworth embarked on a tour of the state’s dairy operations.

“We have some wonderful dairy farmers in Massachusetts,” Lebeaux said, noting there are about 140 statewide.

While touring Bree-Z-Knoll, Lebeaux said he hopes residents will be encouraged to buy fresh, local products. Bree-Z-Knoll is one of four in the Our Family Farms dairy cooperative.

The tour was led by owner Warren Facey, Warren’s daughter-in-law and Our Family Farms General Manager Angie Facey, Warren’s son and Bree-Z-Knoll Manager Randy Facey and a few farm employees. Lebeaux observed some of the farm’s 270 acres, four barns and high, medium and low groups of cows which are categorized depending on their lactation.

Angie Facey explained how Warren Facey purchased Bree-Z-Knoll in 1972, starting with two cows. Today, she said the farm has about 310 cows in all, about 170 of which are currently being milked, allowing the farm to produce 1,280 gallons of milk per day.

As one of four stops on Lebeaux’s two-day tour, with three additional stops for Wentworth, Angie Facey was pleased to have Bree-Z-Knoll included.

“It was good to actually get to chat with him,” Angie Facey said. “It’s great that he wants to (visit) farms.”

“It’s always good to have someone like him come and converse, and see farming in the real world,” Randy Facey agreed.

Lebeaux also toured Smith’s Country Cheese in Winchendon, and will tour Tully Farms in Dunstable. Wentworth will tour Great Hill Dairy in Marion and Bristol County Agricultural High School in Dighton. Both will participate in one Fuel Up to Play 60 event — a school nutrition and exercise program — with Lebeaux going to Alice B. Beal Elementary School in Springfield and Wentworth going to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.