Van Buren County was once home to a number of small dairy operations. But over the years, all but one of them have closed as large farms with more than 500 cows per herd have taken over the industry.
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, milk cow operations have fallen 33 percent since 2001, even though milk production has risen 15 percent during the same time period.
In Arkansas, the number of licensed herds of milk cows has fallen from 290 in 2003 to 110 in 2012.
Danny and Becky Wood of Bee Branch spent many years operating a dairy farm. In 1987, they were named Van Buren County Farm Family of the Year. Eleven years later, after struggling with low milk prices, high operation costs and a lot of government red tape, they closed the barn doors. At the urging of Cindy Wilson of the Van Buren County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee, they share their memories of dairy farming and why they believe the number of dairy farms in the state and county have declined so dramatically.