Florida dairy farm struggling after hurricanes, freezes, and high feed prices

A Central Florida farm is hoping the new year will bring them new luck. 

Carol Peters is a breast cancer survivor who used to work as an engineer. Now, she and her husband John, a retired Orange County firefighter, run Slow Turtle Farms in Eustis. It’s one of two Grade-A dairy farms in the state, but now, the farm’s supply is running on empty.

FOX 35’s David Martin reported on them shortly after the farm earned that designation in 2020.

"This is the only group we’re still milking," said Peters, gesturing to some of her stock. "They’re only giving a tiny portion of what they’re giving now."

Stress can cause goats to stop producing milk. Between the hurricane that we had and the recent cold weather, that’s caused production to come almost to a halt. 

That, coupled with prices of alfalfa and hay and feed nearly doubling, it’s made for a really tough time for the farm. 

"I remember crying when it went up to $400," said Peters. "Now it’s $668."

The dairy was too new to get government help during the pandemic, and Peters’ husband John spent all his retirement savings keeping his farm afloat.

"It’s daunting," said Peters. "And it’s not something that’s insurmountable – we just have to get to the point where we’re flowing milk again."

A lot of the goats are pregnant right now, so they’ll produce milk again soon.

To make do until then, Peters is selling off some of her goats. She’s going to be selling fudge shortly after the start of the new year. She’s thinking about doing some farm-to-table fundraisers. She’s asking for help on GoFundMe – something that pained her to do.

She’s also reminding people of the importance of buying local.

"You’re keeping your dollars here, locally, because we turn around and support all the other small farms and businesses around here," Peters explained.