Joseph & Jessie Dutra
Holstein Dairy Farm
20 Weeden Lane
Jamestown, RI 02835
Four 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.
The 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.
As 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 farms.
Farm 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.
The 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.