Hadley’s Cook Farm honored with Farming Adventurers Award

HADLEY – The New England Fellowship of Agricultural Adventurers presented Gordon ‘Gordie’ Cook Jr. and Cook Farm in Hadley with the 2022 Agricultural Adventurers Award at the annual meeting of the Eastern States Exposition (ESE) on May 10 in West Springfield.

According to a press release from ESE, the award was given to the premier Holstein breeder and century-old dairy farm in recognition of Cook’s work in the purebred cattle industry, advocacy for dairy farmers as well as his services within the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact Commission.

“I was blessed to be singled out as a person, but I couldn’t do anything that I achieved without my family who did things while I was away and allowed me,” said said Cook.

Cook Farm has been a family business for five generations. Cook’s father bought the farm where they had continued success. Cook Farm has won the title of premier breeder for 30 consecutive years at the Massachusetts State Dairy Show and embryos from their flock have been distributed worldwide. For type conformation, Cook Farm ranked 12th in New England and 27th in the country. They have already won the New England Master Breeder Award, the Holstein Association Progressive Breeders Registry Award and the Progressive Genetics Herd Award consistently for decades.

“We’ve always worked with developing cow families and cow families that have bred faithfully,” Cook explained. “Our strong point is that we have fairly well-bred cattle, they express themselves quite well phenotypically. Phenotypic is an achievement; genotypic is an expectation and we prefer to have phenotypic results rather than genotypic expectations. It may be a little scientifically advanced, but that would be our philosophy.

Cook earned his Bachelor of Science in Animal and Veterinary Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and returned to the farm in the 1980s where he would take over from his father. He said it hadn’t always been easy and credited his late wife and daughter-in-law Debby Cook with creating Flayvors and helping save the farm.

“It was my wife Beth’s idea and store, but she passed away last year,” Cook said. “Debby, who now has five children and is a full-time teacher, now runs the store quite efficiently. This is one of the monstrous reasons why Cook Farm has been able to continue in this business. Small-scale and production farming usually doesn’t end well unless something else happens, and that’s our other thing.

“The farmer is the kind of guy who holds his hat,” Cook added. “I don’t necessarily have any affiliation with different politicians but I’ll tell you one politician who made a quote was John Kennedy and he said ‘[The farmer] is the only man in our economy who buys everything retail, sells everything wholesale, and pays freight both ways. This is certainly true in the dairy industry on the dairy farmer side.

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