RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — A 99-year-old Vermont dairy is shutting down at the end of September, and the coronavirus pandemic played a major role in the decision.

“With gratitude, pride and heavy hearts, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close Thomas Dairy at the end of the month,” the Rutland farm wrote in a Facebook post. “The decrease in business from colleges, restaurants and tourism during the COVID shutdown has hit us hard, and the future remains uncertain.”

When the University of Vermont shut down for the semester, the dairy lost its biggest customer overnight, fifth generation co-owner Abby Thomas said.

But there are other reasons, she said. There is increasing competition from organic and nut milks, the facilities are in need of expensive upgrades and the majority of the owners are nearing retirement age.

The company tried to find a buyer, but no viable candidate came forward, she said. Thomas Dairy employs 30 people and produces about 10,000 gallons of milk per week.

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