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EQIP Emma Acres

Emma Acres Receives Prestigious New England Green Pastures Award as Rhode Island's Outstanding Dairy Farm of the Year

Scooter and Cynthia LaPriseEmma Acres in Exeter, Rhode Island recently received the New England Green Pastures Award. The award recognizes Rhode Island's 2010 Dairy Farm of the Year selected by the Rhode Island Green Pastures Committee based on quality animal care, implementation of conservation practices, and high quality dairy products. The Rhode Island Green Pastures Committee is led by DEM's Department of Agriculture and includes the R.I. Farm Bureau, R.I. Dairy Farm Cooperative, R.I. Farm Service Agency, and Agri-Mark Cooperative.

Emma Acres is owned by Scooter (Edwin) and Cynthia LaPrise who interestingly transformed the property to a dairy farm in 2002 as part of their children's 4-H project. Since then, the farm has grown dramatically to include a milking facility installed in 2008 where 31 cows, mostly Jersey, are milked daily. Emma Acres derived its name as an acronym from the first initial of each of the couple's four children-Elizabeth, Matthew, Margaret, and Alexandra. The entire family is actively involved in the farming operation where each child participates in the day-to-day responsibilities caring for the animals. In addition to the demand of running the farming operation and raising a family, Scooter also runs a logging business and Cynthia is employed as a full-time nurse.

Emma Acres is a member of the RI Dairy Farm Cooperative where it sells its milk under the Rhody Fresh Milk label to local institutions, colleges, and retailers. TheScooter LaPrise tending to calves in the barn cooperative consists of nine local dairy farms where their milk is processed locally and then distributed by Little Rhody Farms.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) played an integral role in the success of Emma Acres. NRCS provided both technical and financial assistance to implement numerous conservation practices under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Since 2005, NRCS staff has worked closely with the LaPrise family to address several natural resource concerns including water quality, animal health, and soil condition. With the help of NRCS, Emma Acres installed fencing to promote rotational grazing and exclude the animals from wetland areas.

The LaPrises also voluntarily worked with NRCS to implement several other conservation practices to prevent pollution and ground water contamination. NRCS staff designed and installed both a roofed heavy use area and manure storage facility which included a roof runoff control system (i.e., gutters). The roofed heavy use area also improves animal health by protecting the cows from harsh weather conditions such as extreme heat, cold and wet conditions. In addition, NRCS designed and installed a milk house waste water treatment system and separate pipeline for watering facilities throughout the farm. As part of the farm's nutrient management plan, manure is composted and then sold to nearby farms. Other conservation practices implemented include the design and installation of an access road and animal trails and walkways which reduce soil erosion and enhance overall animal health.

Cows in the barnSuch conservation improvements contributed to the overall success of the dairy operation but quality animal care was also a contributing factor to the farm's success creating high quality dairy products. The cows on Emma Acres are fed a purchased feed where nutritional analysis is done for a well balanced diet of total mixed ration. The cows are milked in a double, four-herring bone parlor and housed in a 40'X80' dairy barn. The herd is fully registered where breeding is done mostly by artificial insemination which focuses on improving genetics for both milk and dairy form.

Emma Acres exemplifies how a successful partnership with NRCS promotes water and soil quality along with yielding high quality dairy products which can be enjoyed by local consumers.