FarmPolicy

November 21, 2019

Ag Economy; Climate Change; Biofuels; and Food Security

Ag Economy- Focus on Dairy Sector

Jerry Hirsch reported in today’s Los Angeles Times that, “Frustrated with low milk prices, dairy farmers are selling cows for hamburger meat and threatening to dump milk into sewers. Many are burning through their life savings hoping to survive the slump, and others are exiting the business.”

Mr. Hirsch explained that, “The pain is being felt throughout the U.S. industry, but it’s especially keen in California, the No. 1 dairy state. The Golden State’s 1,800 dairies produce $7 billion worth of milk annually, more than one-fifth of the nation’s supply. Slumping international demand combined with an American public ordering fewer cheese pizzas has turned the milk market sour.

Current prices are about half of what it costs California producers to feed and milk their herds; every carton sold in the supermarket represents a loss on the farm. Farmers are staying afloat by getting loans secured by every cow, tractor and acre they own. But experts say that if milk prices don’t rise in the coming months, many farmers will burn through their cash and go out of business.”

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