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Farm Fusion

With Paul and Rosemary, the Gingue brothers (James, Shawn, Jeff and Dan) recreate a decades-old family portrait with their MF175, which is still running after 40-plus years.

With Paul and Rosemary, the Gingue brothers (James, Shawn, Jeff and Dan) recreate a decades-old family portrait with their MF175, which is still running after 40-plus years.

When all four of Paul and Rosemary Gingue’s sons wanted to join the family dairy business, the family was presented with a problem. The business wasn’t big enough to support the livelihoods of all four sons.

So they made room for the two youngest as they reached adulthood, helped the two oldest buy another dairy, then helped merge both operations just two years later. It all went according to plan … the second one … or maybe it was the third.

The point is, the Gingues put their heads together and made the necessary adjustments. As a result, they all work together these days on a dairy that’s weathered some tough times and seems stronger for it.

Paul’s two older sons, Dan and Shawn, then in their late 20s, formed Gingue Brothers Dairy in 2008, leasing another farm in Fairfax, Vt., about 70 miles away—as the tractor rides—from St. Johnsbury, where the original family farm is located.

As originally planned, the new farm was to be a mostly separate operation. “After they started the farm in Fairfax, the business plan was all put together, and it looked rosy. Then,” continues Paul, “milk prices tanked just six months into when they started the operation.”

“I started sharing equipment with them so they could save on their custom work,” Paul says. “Going back and forth and helping them on the farm, I just kept thinking to myself, ‘We can’t continue doing it this way.’ I figured if I’m going to invest this much into that farm, it’s probably a pretty darned good opportunity to put another business plan together and have all four boys become members.”

The two farms still work semi-autonomously, with family communicating via text and conference calls. They also bridge the gap by sharing one main tractor, a Massey Ferguson® 8660.

The MF8660 reduces travel time between farms by about 40 minutes.

The MF8660 reduces travel time between farms by about 40 minutes.

As a result of its increased road speed as compared to their older tractor, the MF8660 reduces travel time by about 40 minutes. It uses less fuel too, both on the road and in the field.

Using the MF8660 to work their silage bunk, pull a liquid manure wagon and tiller—among other tasks—Shawn says they save as much as half of the fuel used by their other comparably sized tractor.

The original transition strategy may have needed a few tweaks, but one thing that has gone as planned was the family’s efforts to begin the transition early.

Paul started handing over responsibilities while the boys were still young, allowing them to learn by doing. “Dad started a good 10 years ago allowing us to do more things,” says Dan. “We’d screw up a few things, but that was probably the best way to learn,” he adds with a smile. “That’s helped us and helped him as well, and we really respect him for that.”

For the full story, visit http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/farm-fusion/.

Also, share with us how your farm has adapted to change.

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