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Farm Family

CLAYTON — The Dulin family farm in Clayton got its start back in the early 1920s when their landlord came down from Philadelphia with an offer. The landlord approached Elwood and Gladys Dulin, who had been sharecropping on his land and said “I want you to buy this farm.”

Elwood considered the prospect of buying the then-683-acre operation and told him that there was no way he could afford it. But the man insisted and told Elwood that he could afford it and he was going to make sure of it.

“So my grandparents agreed to buy the farm as owner-financed,” said Lee Dulin Jr., a current partner in Dulin Brothers, LLC. “My grandma used to say that Grandpa would stay up nights wondering how he’d come up with the money to pay for it.”

 

Despite those sleepless nights, Elwood and Gladys, through hard work and dedication, successfully ran the farm and raised a small family on it. They had three sons — Donald, Lee and Norman — who they passed the farm on to when they retired in 1960. Then their kids had kids of their own who had kids of their own, all of whom play a part in running the family farm. The rest, as they say, is history.

Recently, the Dulin Brothers, LLC was recognized at the Kent County Farm Bureau’s banquet held on Sept. 26 in Felton as the 2016 Kent County Farm Family of the Year. U.S. Sen. Thomas Carper and Rep. John Carney turned up at the event and spoke briefly to thank the Kent County farmers for their hard work every day. The family farm is comprised of about 350 head of cattle, 150 of which are milked while the rest are kept as stock and replacement, a poultry house with a capacity of 150,000 pullets and 2,200 tillable acres of grain.

“We grow corn, soybeans, wheat and barley,” said Lee Jr. “We get pullets at one-day old and keep them until they are 17 weeks old when we ship them off to other farms as layer hens. Also, we milk twice per day.”

The family way

The farm has come a long way from its humble beginnings.

“The 683 acres back in the 20s sold for about $11,000 — that’s quite a bit of difference in land prices from then until now,” said Lee Jr.

“When my dad and my uncles took over in the 60s the were still working almost 700 acres and they only milked about 30 to 40 cows. But as we added partners. equipment, got bigger and our families all helped out. We were able to do more so we started growing.”

The family was selected as Farm Family of the Year because it is a family-oriented farm with every member playing a vital part of the operation from picking beans and selling sweet corn to the delivery day of chickens.

“My son Lee III, who works at Delaware State University, comes by every night to help breed cows. My daughter helps with the taxes, my son-in-law runs our grain cart. I can’t go down the list because there are so many family members helping that I don’t want to leave anyone out,” Mr. Dulin said. “All of our kids and grandkids contribute in one way or another. It’s just a family thing.”

When it comes to making big decisions, a process that bedevils many family-held businesses, Lee Jr. says things go pretty smoothly.

“If someone has an idea, we’ll start talking about it. Some ideas work, and some don’t, but we decide what to do as a group,” said Lee Jr. “My dad, Lee Sr., passed away back in 1967, but my uncles Donald and Norman, who are older now, did what I think is a remarkable job of letting the next generation take over. Some people have trouble letting younger people make decisions — they didn’t.”

Norman, who’s 85, and Donald, who’s 80, still keep themselves busy on the farm though.

“Uncle Norman is kind of like our parts guy. He will always run in to town and get parts for whatever we are working on and Uncle Donald walks the chicken house every morning and helps milk in the afternoon,” Mr. Dulin said.

“He’s usually out working at 5 a.m. He’ll head home for a bit during the middle of the day and come back out and stay out until 7 p.m. I actually think helping us is what helps keep them going.”

After Lee Sr. died, Lee Jr.’s mother stayed on the farm with him and his siblings. In 1980, Lee Jr., his brother and his cousin were taken in to the partnership and in 2014 they turned the partnership into Dulin Brothers, LLC.

Mr. Dulin hopes one day the farm will pass down to the next generation in line as well, but he says keeping kids interested in farming can be tricky at times.

“We try to keep our kids and grandkids interested by just including them in everything we do,” he said. “There are so many things out there these days for kids to do, it’s harder to keep them interested in farming.”

A gamble

He says this is partly because the uncertain financial nature of farming can be difficult to navigate at times and because the work makes for a heavy schedule.

“Farming is really a gamble. You plant the seed, spend the money and just hope it rains,” he said. “In the fall when your kids are playing football and hockey, if you’re a dairy farmer, you’re milking at that time so you don’t get to go to their games. That’s part of it too.”

He is confident about the future though, because there are many young grandkids that still have plenty of time to decide whether they’d like to take and active role in managing the farm. Also, it seems as though heading out into the world and trying their hand at a different profession before returning to the family farm is a well-established tradition with the Dulins.

“Both my brother and cousin worked away from the farm for a few years and ended up deciding to come back,” Mr. Dulin said.

“I have a grandson in junior high school who is really interested in the farm and my brothers’ grandchildren are like 5 and 8 so they’re still too young to know yet.”

Whatever happens, he says that the farm will stay a family operation and they will continue to carry on the legacy started by Elwood and Gladys almost 100 years ago.

Estate Planning

Farm Succession Planning Education Series
Farm Succession Planning is a business and risk management practice that is critical to the
agricultural industry and to the health of families and farm businesses. These sessions will
present farmers with the knowledge to begin or continue the process of succession planning.
Families are encouraged to attend the workshop together.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016 – 7pm Farm Transfer Communication Webinar The Farm Whisperer by David
Specht
University of Delaware Paradee Center 69 Transportation Circle, Dover, DE 19901
Please arrive 15 minutes early.
For more information and to pre‐register, contact Extension agents:
Dan Severson ‐ severson@udel.edu or (302) 831-2506
Laurie Wolinski ‐ lgw@udel.edu or (302) 831-2538

It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to
discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age or national origin.

Antibiotic Use

Putting Antibiotic Use in Perspective

By JoAnn Alumbaugh, Editor, PORK Network 

It’s gratifying to find a beacon of reality among the rhetoric about antibiotic resistance, but you (and consumers) really have to search for it.

The Center for Accountability in Science explains, “Though farms use a lot of antibiotics, many are never or rarely prescribed to humans. Thirty percent of antibiotics used on farms are from a class called ionophores, which can be deadly to humans and some animals… There’s no firm evidence that antibiotic resistance in humans is linked to antibiotic use in farm animals.”

Though Denmark has very strict limits on antibiotic use in livestock, the Center says “consumption of meat may currently be considered an insignificant source for the human infections” of food-borne illnesses like E. coli. Three recent studies show that only .27% of antibiotic-resistant E.coli infections can be linked to meat, while 99.73% of those infections are associated with antibiotic use in humans.”

Failure to Finish Prescriptions is a Problem

Dr. Joseph Perrone, who served as an adviser to the World Health Organization, says, “It’s not just over-prescription that poses a problem. Even when antibiotics are prescribed appropriately, too often patients fail to finish the full course of antibiotics once they begin to feel better—or when they’re sick of dealing with the drugs’ side effects such as nausea and vomiting. Failure to finish the full dose means that some of the bacteria may survive. In some cases, the body’s natural defenses will kick in and fight the remaining bacteria. For others, the remaining bacteria can develop resistance to the antibiotic prescribed.”

Examples published in Emerging Infectious Disease, illustrate patient perceptions about antibiotics in patient care: 27% believed taking antibiotics during a cold made them better; and 48% expected antibiotics when seeking medical care associated with a cold. Rather than risk having a patient go to a different doctor, some doctors will go ahead a prescribe an antibiotic, even when they know that’s not what the patient needs.

“Antibiotics are important for an animal’s health and well-being,” says Dr. Justin Bergeron with the University of Minnesota Center for Animal Health and Food Safety. “When humans are sick, we need to take the appropriate medication to get better. Animals have the same need.”

Truthful Information Needed

Both animal and human health experts are diligent in helping disseminate a balanced understanding of the antibiotics issue to consumers.

But it’s not enough.

Every time you talk with your non-farming friends, health-care providers, children’s teachers, or anyone else, share the facts about antibiotic resistance. Begin a dialogue. Help them realize it’s everyone’s obligation to use antibiotics responsibly to protect and maintain the health of both human and animal populations.

MPP Dairy

Dairy Industry Frustrated, Wanting Change with MPP

A glut of dairy product is weighing on the market and the effects are trickling down to the producer.

“The price of milk we’re receiving right now is at or below the cost of production—I would say the majority of people—certainly a downward trend in prices since 2014,” said Gordon Speirs, a Wisconsin dairy producer.

Dairy producers across the Midwest say their insurance is not relieving prices either. Producers may use the Margin Protection Program under the current farm bill. However, industry leaders say MPP isn’t made the way that was proposed and isn’t as effective as hoped.

“Last year we took the baseline insurance,” said Speirs. “We haven’t taken a penny out of it and all we have done is feed it. I believe the program is broken.”

Industry leaders say the feed formula was changed 10 percent due to budget constraints. It took off $1/cwt and changed the coverage.

“If we had stuck with the original numbers of the formula before they were changed, because of cost concerns, we would have seen a lot more payouts,” said John Holevoet of the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association.

“Under the original proposal, farmers could have received payments up to four dollars in some regions,” said Jim Dickrell, managing editor with Dairy Herd Management. “We were close to catastrophic levels back then.”

That’s why the industry believes the insurance portion of the bill needs to be changed for the next one. The National Milk Producers Federation is exploring options for improving MPP, and that could involve attaching it to a bill prior to the new farm bill. Representatives say they hope to agree on a course of action when the board of directors meets next in March.

“We want to look at getting back to the original rates proposed,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “We want to look to see if the premiums are right. We want to look at different tiers in the program.”

While it is wishful thinking, some say trying to make the change before the next farm bill will be difficult.

“I don’t know if politically they can go back and fix it or not or adjust who will be eligible or how they will be eligible or like that,” said Dickrell. “However, we’re always fighting the federal budget with the deficit so large, it’s going to be an ongoing battle to get a fix which will help everyone.”

California producers are sour towards the MPP program too. Some California producers feel their location makes a difference with their Margin Protection Program insurance coverage as well.

“Most of these government programs aren’t geared for Californians,” said Greg Hooker, a California dairy producer. “We get little benefit out of those things. The way they value milk and feed, it’s a Midwestern calculation, which is different from California.”

Policy the dairy industry needs as they deal with an excess product.

“We go through good times and bad times and absorb some of those times with losses,” said Hooker. “That’s the nature of the business.”

NMPF representatives says they don’t expect any changes at this time which will include regional adjustments in pricing, feed costs or milk prices.

Farm Succession

The Farm CPA: Top 10 farm succession-planning roadblocks

Many farm owners expect to pass on their pride and joy to their children, another family member or an employee. This change in ownership can fund the owner’s retirement and carry on the farm down through the generations.

Yet all farmers face roadblocks that threaten to thwart their dreams. Here is a checklist of hazards you’ll want to avoid during this process.

1. Start planning too late. Many farmers leave succession planning until the last moment—if they plan at all. Yet an ideal succession plan requires laying the groundwork over many years. How you want to leave the farm tomorrow strongly influences how you structure and operate the farm today.

2. Assume a family member will take over the business. Although many children want to farm, not all do. Talk to your children. Encourage them to work in the farm business but don’t pressure them. Know every family member’s desires as soon as practical so you can pursue other avenues, if necessary.

3. Divide the farm equally among heirs. Equal ownership among heirs is usually a recipe for disaster. Different skills and visions inevitably lead to conflict. Decide who among your heirs has the talent, desire and skills to run the farm. If an heir does not want to be involved in the farm, plan to gift that person other assets.

4. Wait too long to transfer real authority. Many farmers don’t relinquish authority until the day they retire. Then they make the painful realization their successor isn’t up to the task. Involve heirs in your relationships with vendors, employees and customers.

5. Distrust your successor. This goes along with failure to give your heir genuine authority. Although you don’t want to trust someone blindly, you shouldn’t be so suspicious that you’re constantly peering over his or her shoulder. Whether you are working with a family member or an outside party, there is always a level of risk to leadership transitions. A nonvoting advisory board is a productive way to establish a framework for communication and accountability.

6. Fail to have potential successors gain experience at another business. It is a good idea to encourage an heir to work for someone else before committing to the family farm. This can be valuable training and provide a clearer sense of whether that person ultimately wants to run the show.

7. Be secretive about your plans. Farmers often play succession plans close to their chest. This is a disservice to heirs and potentially a disaster for the farm. The sooner you can reveal your plans, the sooner everyone can get on board. It also gives you time to modify the plan, if necessary.

8. Dread your retirement years. Retirement can be difficult for farmers. Without a clear plan for retirement, you will almost inevitably drift back to the farm, meddling in how it’s being run—often to the detriment of the farm and family relations.

9. Plan on your own. Succession planning is complicated (we haven’t even discussed tax issues). Employ outside advice for an objective perspective.

10. Avoid the journey and look for a cookie-cutter process. There are no shortcuts to a successful farm transition plan. As with many journeys in life, it can be fun and fruitful for those who go with you.

 

Unique To You. From a distance, many farms might look similar. Yet like snowflakes, no two farms are alike. That’s why it’s important to create a customized plan that addresses your unique needs. Start now!