Pine River Dairy: ‘It’s just not sustainable’

Pine River Farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains is a bit like a modern-day barn in the West.

At its core is a 200-acre dairy that, unlike most dairy farms, can be operated on the dairy farm’s property.

Pine River has been operating at this farm since 1977 and its founder, Jim McAlister, is the only full-time employee, according to owner Rick Gorman.

McAlisters dairy herd is the largest in the United States.

Pine has been able to produce milk on the farm because of the farm’s climate and soil quality, he said.

“It’s the climate, it’s the soils, it takes a long time for them to be able to break through the surface soil,” McAliter said.

“So when they do break through, it doesn’t take them too long to do a good job, which is why we do it every year.”

McAlister has been farming on the property for about 40 years, starting in 1979.

“I have always loved milk and I’ve always loved the cow,” McAllister said.

The farm has had a hard time sustaining itself because of its climate and lack of water.

But McAllisters dairy has made a change.

McAlliers herd has gone from being about 70 percent cows in 1980 to about 80 percent cows today.

“We have been able, in a short amount of time, to produce a product that’s been in demand for a very long time,” McALITERS son, Robert, said.

He said the ranch has seen a lot of growth in the last few years.

Robert McAliters milk has been available at other farms, including his father’s.

But he said Pine River’s dairy is the first to have dairy on its property and the only one to be operated by McAlliter.

“That’s a testament to the dedication and the hard work that Jim and the family have put into their dairy farm,” Robert said. 

“Pine River is a beautiful farm and a good place to be for the people who come here to enjoy it,” McALLISERS son said.