FORMER FAIRFAX FARMER THROWS IN THE TOWEL
Former Fairfax Resident, Jay Boissoneault, son of Giles & Carol (Gaboury) Boissoneault had to finally relent and put his farm in Swanton up for auction. This was a life long dream for Jay and it is certainly sad to see that another Franklin County Farm has found it necessary to be sold. Farming is one of the few industries where the owner has no control over what they get for their product, along with no control over what their expenditures are.
Jay had a doubly difficult task in that in order for most young farmers to succeed, they usually take over the farm their parents owned. Jay's auction was featured on Channel 3 News on February 19, 2003 and an article appeared in the February 20, 2003 Burlington Free Press which is shown below. Quotes from Jay are in red and underlined.
CHANNEL 3 WCAX NEWS SCRIPT:
Winters are hard in Franklin County ... they're even more difficult for the area's farmers. Jay Bissoneault of Swanton is one of those farmers, and he wouldn't trade this life for the world. ((Jay Boissoneault/Selling Farm: 8:06: "Really it's all I've ever done, pretty much all I've ever wanted to do.")) But Jay and his wife now have to find a new line of work, the farm they bought two years ago has to be sold, and their livestock and inventory auctioned off. ((Jay Boissoneault/Selling Farm: 7:16: "We just got the barn built and the milk price crashed in December of 2001 and we haven't had a profitable month since. We ran 13 months in the hole, losing probably $30 to $35 to $40 thousand dollars a month.")) Jay borrowed money when milk was selling at a premium -- then the bottom dropped out. Neighbors are also feeling the pinch, and some may be calling the auction company to sell sooner rather than later. ((Marcel Roberts/Ag Sales Unlimited: 19:03: "Written on contracts we don't have too many, we have a lot of people talking about it, people thinking about it, but they're in limbo, they don't know which way to turn and they just don't know where to go.")) Those who remain come to auctions like this in search of bargains. Whether by replacing a cow, or buying a machine for parts, they're now trying to save money by spending money. And despite his setback, Jay isn't ready to give up farming entirely. He's going to go to work for someone else. ((Jay Boissoneault/Selling Farm: 9:35: "You can't explain it. It's .. I don't know, some people call it the way of life, or it's just who you are. It takes certain people to do it and the people on the outside have no idea and the appreciation just isn't there for the vegetable growers, grain growers, dairy producers." 9:58)) And he hopes those farmers have a little more luck with his equipment than he did. Mark Bosma, Channel 3 News, Swanton.
THE FOLLOWING APPEARED IN THE FEBRUARY 20, 2003 ISSUE OF THE BURLINGTON FREE PRESS
Farmer watches dream sold
By Sue Robinson
Free Press Staff Writer
SWANTON -- The dream of a Swanton farmer died Wednesday as he auctioned off his herd and machinery. Industry experts predict hundreds more Vermont farms will go this year.
Jay Boissonneault raised about 450 cows in a brand-new barn during the past two years before tumbling milk prices did him in last month. Wednesday he watched as each of his animals and all his tractors, plows and other equipment went to the highest bidders.
"Never in 18 years have I woken up and not had cows to milk," Boissonneault said.
Byron Moyer, a dairy specialist with the state Department of Agriculture, predicted that 200 farms would go under this year -- about quadruple the average attrition rate for the industry in Vermont. Most of those farms will be sold this spring as farmers gear up for the planting and bills must be prepaid, Moyer said.
"When this type of farm goes out, it clearly indicates the problem is widespread in the industry. The problem is not restricted solely to small dairies," Moyer said, "and any time our industry shrinks, there is a ripple effect as it relates to employment in the region. It clearly goes beyond the dairy farm."
Feed dealers, veterinarians, parts suppliers, equipment dealers and other service providers don't get paid and also suffer, he added. He estimated that for every $1 a farmer spends, that $1 changes hands seven times in the community.
Roughly 300 farmers from all over the Northeast showed up at the Boissoneaults' homestead to see if they could pick up some deals. The price of cows has declined since 2000 when it averaged more than $2,000 a head. The top price on Wednesday was $2,150. The average price was closer to $1,600.
"These are all going about what we expected," said auctioneer Marcel Roberts, a partner with Ag Sales Unlimited of Newport
He added that the company has two more auctions booked this winter, but "we got a lot of people talking about it. It's just nobody has taken the plunge yet."
Underneath the stream of the auctioneer's patter lurked a sense of foreboding. Many worry that as Vermont hemorrhages farms, the state's landscape, its culture, its identity will also suffer.
Boissonneault's 200 acres are protected by the Vermont Land Trust, which bought the development rights to the property from the previous owner. Right now the bank, Ag Venture, owns the land. Tom Bellavance, president of Ag Venture, said Wednesday the farm is up for sale and he said several people -- all farmers -- have already called.
The Boissonneaults must be out by April. "I won't be the last," Boissonneault said.
Contact Sue Robinson at 660-1852 or firstname.lastname@example.org