Father/son robotic dairy farmers share challenges they face in 2019

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MIDWAY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Father and son, Grant and Russell Kohler, are fourth and fifth-generation dairy farmers and they say their family farm is one of the few dairies left in the state.

Father and son, Grant and Russell Kohler are walking into their robotic dairy to check on their 250 cows.

When the Olympics were here in 2002,” Grant Kohler says, “We were over 900 dairies. And today, we’re down to 120 dairies.”

With an entire structure that attends to a cow’s every need automatically, it might seem like refined farming is easier than it was just a few years ago.

But here, at Kohler Farms, new challenges face these modern-day agriculture specialists.  

Uncertain of their dairy farming future, the Kohlers sold more than 100 acres of land for development years ago.

“Wish we wouldn’t have now, but knowing what we know now, we didn’t know that then,” Grant Kohler says.

Now, the cost of land is too expensive to buy more.

Grant and Russell Kohler are working with Utah Open Lands to place their 100 acres of farmland in a conservation easement.

Grant and Russell Kohler say cheaper land in Utah is located in places like Delta and Fillmore.

A small dairy farm in Midway, Utah, is not viable into the future and long-term. It’s just not there,” Grant Kohler says. “You gotta get bigger and my problem is land values up here are so high you can’t buy the ground to support a big dairy.”

To maintain sustainability, Grant and Russell Kohler built Heber Valley Artisan Cheese and the robotic dairy at Kohler Farms to continue their heritage of farming.

The Kohlers are working with Utah Open Lands to place their 100 acres of farmland in a conservation easement.

What happens is we will keep it as part of the farm and be able to raise our feed and pasture our animals and be able to help make the farm viable,” Grant says.

Grant says the easement will keep the grounds open so when the public drives into Midway, they will see some of the natural beauty rather than homes.

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