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Three local dairy farms purchase 2,600 acres of farmland in $4 million deal

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Three well-known dairy farmers have put their money in the same pot to buy 2,600 acres of prime farmland for $4 million from Joseph P. Spezzano Jr. of Branford, Conn.

Ronald C. Robbins, owner of Robbins Family Grain in Sackets Harbor; Michael W. Hill, owner of Hillcrest Farms in Ellisburg, and John Barney, owner of Butterville Farms in Smithville, closed on the deal Tuesday. A total of 26 tax parcels were bought from Mr. Spezzano, who had owned the land for 15 years and experienced challenges leasing it to local farmers while he lived in Connecticut.

“A large percentage of it is prime farmland located right in the center of Jefferson County, and it’s all contiguous to our current farming operations,” said Mr. Robbins, adding the three co-owners have no immediate plans to start operations. “The sole purpose was to secure and have local control over this property in the future.”

Mr. Spezzano had difficulty making loan payments on the property, Mr. Robbins said, and creditors were on the verge of foreclosing on the land.

“He never farmed up here, and he was way too far away for it to work out,” he said.

Mr. Robbins said before Mr. Spezzano purchased the property, it had a history of financial difficulty since the 1980s, when it was under the ownership of the Mackintosh family on the west side and the Zahn family on the east.

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