The State of Maine (and the State of Its Cheese)
The state of Maine has had a complicated dairy history, but cheesemaking is one aspect that's looking brighter by the day. Vacationland is home to a growing number of small-scale licensed cheesemakers -- a whopping 71, second only to New York's 100 -- but the state doesn't even crack the top five for cheese production. So what gives?
Many older Maine dairy farmers elected to be part of the federal government’s whole-herd buyback program, selling all their cows and signing an agreement that they wouldn’t go back to dairy farming for five years. Before the 1980s-era buyback program, Maine had about 1,600 dairy farms, according to the Maine Dairy Industry Association. By 2001, that number had dropped precipitously to just 460.
Photo by Abigail Curtis/Bangor Daily News