AUGUSTA, Maine — The New England Green Pastures Program began in 1947 when New Hampshire governor, Charles Dale, pronounced the following words: “I challenge the other New England States to produce better pastures than New Hampshire, and I bet a hat that they can’t do it.” Seventy-five years later, the Green Pastures program has become a tradition that involves hundreds of dedicated farmers, farm families, and agri-business leaders.
The Maine Green Pastures Program committee visited two dairy farms in July 2023: the finalists of a selection process that began earlier in the year. Ultimately, they selected Green Valle Farm for the 2023 Maine Dairy Farm and Family of the Year. Their owners, the Miller family, will be recognized at the 160th Big E Fair on the Eastern States Exposition grounds in West Springfield, MA, along with winners of this award from the other five New England states.
The Green Valle Farm began when the Miller’s settled in Newburg, ME, in the mid-1850s. Linwood and Myron Miller, Heath’s grandfather and great-uncle, started milking cows and sold milk commercially in the 1930s. They decided to separate after a fire in the late 1950s, but both remained in the dairy industry. The baton was passed to Keith Miller, Linwood’s son, and later to Heath, who makes the 5th generation of Miller’s dairy producers at Green Valle Farm. This fall, the 6th generation: Ethan and Makayla, will be attending the State University of New York and the University of New Hampshire, to earn degrees in dairy herd management and production, and Animal Sciences focusing on pre-vet for large animals.
Currently, Green Valle Farm owns 275 Holstein dairy cows, where 82% of the animals are on milk. The herd produces over 26,000 pounds of milk per cow, with averages of 3.9% fat, 3% protein, and 94,000 somatic cell count. The farm has two free-stall barns, a dry cow-calving, fresh cow barn, a manure pit, a silage store pad, and a double 10-milking parlor, where the cows have been milked thrice daily for the past four years.
Additionally, the farm has an active crop program, with 260 acres of BMR corn and 400 acres of mixed grass for silage production. The Miller family also grows 50 acres of winter rye in the same area as their corn. In this way, they take advantage of the rye as a cover crop in winter and harvest it for silage before planting corn the following year.
Lastly, the Miller family has always maintained close contact with the people and has kept service to the community. Linwood Miller and his father, John Miller, were both town selectmen. Keith Miller was a 50-year member of the Newburgh Fire Department, many of those as assistant chief. And his son, Heath, has served ten years on the RSU 22 School board and the Maine Dairy Promotion Board, where he is now chair. Furthermore, he has served eight years in the Maine Dairy Industry Association and has been a 4-year State FSA board member, representing dairy farmers in Maine.
Congratulations to the Miller family: Keith, Cindy, Heath, Heather, Ethan, and Makayla, on their continued hard work!
–Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry