generations of Dutra's have enjoyed working
the land at this farm located in the center
of Conanicut Island. Joe and Jessie Dutra are
founding members of the Rhode Island Dairy Farms
Cooperative and Rhody Fresh milk. Their young
son Joey is enjoying all there is to learn about
life on a farm.
Available products: Hay round bales,
square bales and baleage Call Joe at 662-5686
for prices and availability.
140-acre Dutra Farm, owned and operated by Joe
and Jessie Dutra, was named New England farm
of the Year in 2003. The farm has been in the
Dutra family since the early 1900s.
Originally know as Wanton Farm, the Dutra Farm
was once owned by Joseph Wanton, Jr., who was
Deputy Governor of RI and in 1764 and 1767.
Joseph Furtado Dutra, an Azorean immigrant,
purchased Wanton Farm in 1917. Joe Dutra is
a third generation farmer who hopes someday
to pass the farm on to his son, Joe Jr.
Currently, the operation is focusing on hay
- square bales, round bales and baleage. The
dairy herd has 45 replacement heifers, all Holsteins.
Replacement heifers are young females that have
not had their first calf.
members of the Rhode Island Dairy Farms Cooperative,
Joe and Jessie Dutra continue to help and support
the growth of Rhody Fresh milk. This initiative
is a means to bring a fresh local product to
the people of Rhode Island and keep Rhode Island
dairy farms viable.
Milk prices are established by a complicated
federal formula that determines the price of
wholesale-unprocessed milk nationwide. The formula
is adjusted monthly and can range from $10 to
$18 per 100 pounds. The federal formula, although
created to provide nationwide equity and stability
in milk prices, does not reflect the higher
costs of New England dairy production. When
raw milk prices drop below $16 per hundred weight
the Dutra Farm loses money. Therefore for the
past few years Joe and Jessie Dutra have been
working with four other Rhode Island dairy farms
to develop a value added model for determining
a price for unprocessed milk that reflects the
true production costs and allows farmers to
make a profit from their business. One July
1, 2004 in the fields of the Dutra Farm, the
five farms held a press conference announcing
the formation of the Rhode Island Dairy Farms
Cooperative and the plan to process and distribute
Rhody Fresh milk. More than 200 people attended.
The mission statement of the Cooperative is
clear: to provide the people of the state, fresh
highest quality milk produced by Rhode Island’s
family owned dairy farms…and to work
toward conserving a sustainable, ecologically
sound independent future for Rhode Island family
Buildings: There is one farmhouse on the Dutra
farm. The largest of the barns is the milking
barn, which accommodates the entire milking
operation. Approximately 55 cows are held in
milking stanchions, 30 on each side of a center
isle. The first floor loft holds the 5,000 bales
of hay that are fed to the cows from November
through March. The other large building on the
farm is the equipment shed, which housed a variety
of field equipment and a mechanics bay.
Other smaller buildings are used for grain
storage, animal shelter, and equipment storage.
Dutra Farm is prime foraging area for both the
Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egret. Other wildlife
species of interest observed on the property
include: Red-tailed Hawk, Barn Swallow, Tree
Swallow, Yellow Warbler, Song Sparrow, Red-winged
Blackbird, American Goldfinch, White-tailed
Deer and Coyote.
Conservation Status: The Nature Conservancy
holds a conservation easement on approximately
40 acres of the most northern portion of the
farm bordering the Town of Jamestown conservation
land. The development rights for an additional
80 acres have been sold to ensure the farm will
remain farmland, farm operations and/or undeveloped
land other than agriculture.