SUMMERHILL - Dave Myers hopes people never tire of eating pizza.
That's because the milk produced on his dairy farm, a member of the Lanco-Pennland Cooperative, is shipped to Saputo Cheese USA in Hancock, Md., where it's used to make mozzarella cheese.
The Dave Myers Farm on Gates Hill Road, in Cambria County, nestled between Summerhill, Wilmore and New Germany, was named a Century Farm in 1977.
Mirror photos by Gary M.?Baranec
David Myers, son of Wendell and Fern Myers, keeps an eye on the family’s dairy cows during milking.
The Myers farm in Summerhill has been owned by the family since 1865.
Wendell, 91, and Fern Myers, 90, passed their family farm on to their son, Dave, in 1981.
The state Department of Agriculture recognizes Pennsylvania families who have been farming the same land for 100 and 200 years through the Century and Bicentennial farm programs. The same family must own the farm for at least 100 consecutive years to be classified as a Century Farm or 200 years to be a Bicentennial Farm. A family member must live on the farm on a permanent basis.
Myers' farm has been in his family since 1865, when it was purchased by his maternal great-grandparents, Albert and Louisa Berghane. It then passed to his maternal grandparents, George and Lucy Berghane, and to his parents, Wendell and Fern Myers, in the early 1940s. Myers took over operations in 1981.
Myers, 63, said he always wanted to be a farmer and got started at a young age.
"He got started when he was 4 years old and was old enough to carry a bucket," said Fern Myers, 90, who along with her husband, who is 91, still live on the farm. "We didn't push it on him. This is what he chose."
"When I was big enough to walk I followed Mom and Dad around," Dave Myers said.
After graduating from Forest Hills High School in 1967, Myers earned a bachelor's degree in dairy science in 1971 from Virginia Tech.
Over the years, the farm has grown from 80 to 270 acres and the number of milking cows has increased from 30 to 320. Myers also has about 260 "young stock"- calves and heifers.
"We average 10 gallons a cow a day or 86 pounds a day. A full truckload (about 49,000 pounds or nearly 25 tons) leaves here every other day," Myers said.
Myers also grows corn, soybeans and hay, which is used to help feed his cows.
"It is a reasonably good crop. We've had better, but it has been a good crop year," Myers said. "The rains were timely."
Myers employs 12 people, including three full-timers. He said the workers are all local.
He said the job is challenging, with the biggest challenge being the price farmers are paid for their milk.
"We just came through a couple of very low months. It is now $16.50 per hundredweight, and it costs us about $19.50 [per hundredweight] to produce that," Myers said. "We are also faced with higher prices for corn and soybeans. Our feed is costing us so much. We are hoping to see milk go up to $20 to $22 in a couple of months to get us back into the black."
He said dairy farmers don't set the price of their products, so all he can do is make sure his herd is fed properly and stays healthy so they can produce the largest amount of milk.
Myers said his key to success has been expanding his milk production and acreage. He said he farms close to 1,000 acres of crops, including land on about dozen farms in the area in addition to the land that he owns.
He said he has no plans to retire.
"I am having too much fun. I am just getting to the place where I am having fun," Myers said. "It is the challenge that keeps you going. You always have the weather to deal with. Things have to be done - whether it is a nice day or a rainy day and snowing and blowing and close to zero."