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Published March 03, 2010, 09:11 AM

Cows to chardonnay: Can Connecticut dairy farms change?

WARREN, Conn. — The University of Connecticut is studying ways to help dairy farmers diversify and preserve open space while boosting grape-growing to supply Connecticut’s wineries.

By: Stephen Singer, Associated Press

WARREN, Conn. — The University of Connecticut is studying ways to help dairy farmers diversify and preserve open space while boosting grape-growing to supply Connecticut’s wineries.

Agriculture and resource economics professor Boris Bravo-Ureta (BRAH-voh You-RAY-teh) is leading the study. He says he wants to determine if grape production in Connecticut can meet the demand created by wineries.

Former dairy farmer Bill Hopkins switched to a winery in 1979, and says such businesses are possible. But he says it depends on the land, knowledgeable farmers and their equipment.

The number of Connecticut’s dairy farms has declined from 500 in 1990 to 151 last year. The state Agriculture Department says grape cultivation is among the fastest-growing agricultural activities in the state.

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