Saturday, June 30, 2018
Best advice to U.S. dairy farmers? 'Sell out as fast as you can'
...Coombs is one of more than 100 dairy farmers across seven states who learned in March that they would lose their contract with Dean Foods, which runs a milk processing plant in Louisville that mainly served Walmart. Dean Foods is shutting the plant at the end of the summer because Walmart is building its own processing facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and will work directly with dairy farms there instead. Many of the Kentucky dairy farmers who sold their milk to Dean Foods have not yet found anyone else to buy it instead — and like Coombs, they could soon have to sell their cows. They are just the latest of more than 42,000 dairy farmers who have gone out of business since 2000, casualties of an outdated business model, pricey farm loans and pressures from corporate agriculture. There were nearly 650,000 dairy farms in the U.S. in 1970, but just 40,219 remained at the end of 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cows are producing more milk than ever, but they’re consolidated on bigger, more efficient farms. In 1987, half of American dairy farms had 80 or fewer cows; by 2012, that figure had risen to 900 cows...MORE