Letters to the Editor

Why we really sold the cows

I just briefed the Dec. 29 edition of your paper and noted an absurdly inaccurate statement. Your top news stories for the year are always interesting. This year I found your mention of our family selling our dairy cows. You state that we were the last dairy farm in operation on Whidbey and this was the end of an era. To my knowledge this is true and the real news story here was the end of an era. But, your reasoning on page 2 for our leaving the dairy business is simply baseless!

In May 2007 we sold our dairy herd for one and only one reason. Certainly, it would have been more lucrative for us to stay in the dairy business, but for years we had desired to divide up the ownership of our business. It had been difficult to come to a fair agreement while providing for the dairy operation to continue. Once the decision was made to sell the cows, the division was done rapidly and fairly for those of us involved.

It is not my business why other dairies have sold, but I have often heard the same rhetoric used for others as you state as the reason for our sale. Maybe this is the expected reason, or just the easy justification, or more likely the juicy gossip! I don’t know. Why would you state it, when it is not factual? Is this responsible journalism?

Dairying on Ebey’s Prairie near Coupeville afforded us hugely competitive advantages to other sites. Top quality cattle bred over two generations, adaptable dairy infrastructure built over three generations, the unique climate for both cattle and crop, no threats from flooding, fertile soils and most importantly a supportive community allowed us to be easily competitive. Mega-dairies in Eastern Washington were not an issue in our decision.

Within hours, not days or weeks, after loading our last cow, I had several progressive and well established Skagit and Whatcom county dairy farmers approaching me wanting to either lease or purchase our dairy to move or expand their operations. These farmers were very familiar with the success of our dairy operation and the competitive advantages on Ebey’s Prairie. For our own reasons we declined their offers.

Now, come to think of it, it really isn’t anybody else’s business why we have done what we have done. But, please don’t lower your paper to become accomplices to nonfactual rumors!

Happy New Year!

Wilbur Bishop


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