After 111 years, Andrews University dairy farm is closing
Competition is forcing a local university to put an end to a century-old program.
Andrews University is shutting down its dairy farm.
The dairy will be closed by next summer.
During the transition the school will need to figure out what happens to the buildings, the student workers and the 1,200 cows.
Almost everyone involved with the farm wishes the decision didn't have to be made.
Mike Carpenter has worked at Andrews Dairy for 22 years.
"When I was 12 years old, I wanted to be a dairy farmer. They told me if I did good in school, I could do whatever I wanted to do, so I wanted to be a dairy farmer," Carpenter said.
His days at this dairy farm are numbered. The college has decided to close the dairy by summer 2019.
"To see something that's been a part of Berrien County for so long and now it's having to shut down, you work with community as well as the people here. It's sad," Carpenter said.
It's was a decision Larry Schalk, senior VP of finance, says he lost sleep over.
Schalk worked at the dairy during his college days.
"All of our heart says based upon what's been done, that this is not a good decision for Andrews University,” Schalk said.
The dairy dates back to 1907. The school's herd has won countless awards and has been a part of countless student experiences.
"It's something that we've been really proud of, and it's really been kind of an emotional and a key part to our student population as well over the last century,” said Stephen Payne, VP of integrated marketing & communication.
Over the last century the dairy industry has changed. Milk prices are down, and the demand is changing – leading to big losses for smaller dairies like this one.
"In the last two to three years, we have lost between $750,000 and $900,000 a year,” said Payne.
It's money a private school with dropping enrollment can't afford to keep losing.
The farm at Andrews University will continue to operate.
As for the full-time, part-time and student workers at the dairy, the school says it will work to find them other employment on campus.