ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) Nearly two dozen cows were found starved to death after a Vermont farmer could no longer care for them. It happened at the Matthews Farm in Essex.
Now, the state plans to step up its efforts to prevent similar situations at other Vermont farms.
From a distance, the old farm in Essex adds a rustic touch to Vermont's green landscape. But from about 50 feet away, the smell of rotting cow carcasses lingers.
Recently, friends say the owner of the dairy farm, Earle Matthews, 75, was injured and could no longer care for his animals.
Now, his farm, once full of grazing Holsteins, is silent.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture helped the family dispose of the carcasses that scattered Matthews' property.
"The family stepped up and did what they needed to do and the community supported it," said Laura DiPietro of the Agency of Agriculture.
But neighbors say they feared this would happen and they hope the state will step in for other farmers when times get rough.
"We've started a process through this dairy downturn to talk with all of the different partners who work on farms to figure out how can we all do a better job at triaging to make sure that preventative measures are taking place?" DiPietro said.
The Agency of Agriculture says they inspected the farm months before the cows died and saw no red flags.
An investigation is underway. It is not clear if police will press charges.