Friday, October 12, 2012

Franklin County's first family of farmers honored

Brubaker brothers recognized by Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame.

Four brothers with Franklin County roots were recognized by the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame for their "significant contributions to Virginia's livestock industry" in a ceremony Sept. 22 at Virginia Tech.

The award was given to R. Emory, Daniel and E. Cline Brubaker and their late brother, Galen Brubaker, through the efforts of Union Hall resident Wayne Dudley, a former neighbor and employee of three of the brothers, and the Virginia State Dairymen's Association.

"I was greatly pleased ... that we've been thought of and honored [to this] extent," said EmoryBrubaker.

While two of the Brubaker brothers are graduates of Virginia Tech, each has long been acquainted with the farming industry.

Growing up on Blackwater Valley Farm in the Callaway area of Franklin County, which was owned by their late father, Riley Brubaker, the brothers often assisted in myriad agricultural duties: milking cows before and after school, feeding calves, filling silos and driving tractors.

Riley Brubaker would prove to be a strong role model: His farming practices led to Blackwater Valley being featured in The Progressive Farmer magazine in 1949. He served on the Franklin County School Board and held leadership positions on agricultural boards.

The four brothers, who continued to operate dairy farms into adulthood, garnered numerous civic recognition of their own.

Galen Brubaker, who died in June, operated the Franklin County Gale-Ru Dairy farm and was a president of the Virginia State Dairymen's Association.

After receiving his bachelor's and master's in dairy science from Virginia Tech, Emory Brubaker returned to Franklin County to assist his father on the farm. He later accepted a position at Select Sire Power, Inc., an agricultural services company, and served on the Franklin County School Board.

Daniel Brubaker, who operates a dairy farm in Rockingham County, held the position of president of the Rockingham Farm Bureau.

Shortly after graduation from Virginia Tech, Cline succeeded his father in ownership of Blackwater Valley, which earned the distinction of being named a Virginia Century Farm, a program honoring farms that have been in operation for at least 100 years.

He serves as a Franklin County supervisor for the Blackwater District.

"I was ignorant, I didn't know what I was getting into," joked Cline of his entry into farming. "My first year, I was scared to death."

He said he is proud to continue at the helm of America's agricultural industry.

"In the past 40 years I've been in business, 500,000 of my fellow dairy farmers have quit milking cows," said Cline. "Someone's got to produce food for this country. That's the challenge."

In the face of impending retirement, Cline said he will continue his agricultural endeavors.

"It's a tough decision. Having a farm, no one is going to provide me a pension. My stocks are all out here walking."