PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced EMMA Acres in Exeter has been named Rhode Island's 2016 Outstanding Dairy Farm by the Rhode Island Green Pastures Committee of which DEM is a member.
"EMMA Acres is one of Rhode Island's finest dairy farms, and it is most deserving of this recognition," said Ken Ayars, DEM Chief of Agriculture. "Our state has a rich agricultural heritage, and increasingly, local food and agriculture are hotbeds for innovation and growth – spurred on by a growing demand among consumers to know their farmers and benefit from quality, local products. Dairy farming, however, has experienced a decline in recent years in Rhode Island – as elsewhere nationally. This awards program shines an important light on the value of dairy farming to our state, and I applaud EMMA Acres and the Green Pastures Committee for their commitment to the viability of this important local industry."
Rhode Island is one of few states where the number of farms is on the rise, now standing at more than 1,200 farms. The state also leads the nation in the percent of its farms selling directly to the public. Green industries in Rhode Island account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy. EMMA Acres, owned by Rhode Island natives Cynthia and Scooter LaPrise, was selected for this year's award given the owners' commitment to farming best practices, community ties, and involvement in dairy farming advocacy and growth. EMMA Acres is a member of the Rhode Island Dairy Farms Cooperative and the Agri-Mark Cooperative. Milk from its 26 cows is used in Rhody Fresh Milk and Cabot dairy products. Its manure is sold to local farmers for use as fertilizer or compost.
Cynthia and Scooter LaPrise, who have deep farming roots, purchased the property in 1990, naming it after their four children: Elizabeth, Matthew, Maggie, and Alexandra. Creation of the dairy farm was inspired by the children's 4-H project in 2002 – when the family's first Jersey calves were acquired. Cynthia grew up at Bailey Farm in East Greenwich and was involved in 4-H. Scooter was a member and former state president of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Association. The children are also active in the farming community: Elizabeth, 25, is a former FFA state president; Matthew, 23, works in the wood and logging industry; Alexandra, 21, works for the Rhode Island Dairy Farms Cooperative and coaches the state's 4-H dairy judging team; and Maggie, 17, is a member of 4-H, the New England Junior Holstein Association, and assists with milking and raising the young stock at EMMA Acres. The Outstanding Dairy Farm of the Year award is sponsored by the New England Green Pastures Committee, made up of government and industry members. Membership in Rhode Island's Green Pastures Committee is coordinated by the Rhode Island Agricultural Council and the DEM Division of Agriculture. Winning dairy farmers from each New England state will be honored in September at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
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