East Valley’s last dairy farmers look to develop 860 acres, leave area

Before they’re milked, the cows at Jim Boyle Dairy in Mesa are herded into a bathing area where they are cleaned and prepped. /Photo by Erica Apodaca/Cronkite News

By Lily Altavena |The Republic

(Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents the 13 dairymen working to plan their land in collaboration with the city of Mesa.)

As he looks out at acre after acre of his dairy farm, Jim Boyle Jr. is not wistful at the idea of leaving the land his family has farmed for 40 years. He’s hopeful.

“The East Valley had a large number of dairies, and they’ve all been replaced by development,” he said. “Which, you know, is good in a lot of ways, most of those guys were able to sell their land and build bigger dairies.

Boyle Jr.’s dairy is one of five in the neighborhood near southeast Mesa involved in a massive, 860-acre zoning request. It’s a critical juncture for the dairymen: They need to decide whether to stay in the area or go. Equipment is aging and it’s time to expand, to milk more cows to keep up with an industry gone global.

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