Excellent article on the state of the dairy industry

PP1RT

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I seen the writing on the wall clear back in the late 60's. The government wanted nothing to do with small family farms. The bean counters called them nonproductive and not cost affective. Department of ag wanted to control what was grown, acres of production and markets to control food prices.
Dad farmed for over 30 years before getting out. I have Uncles that farmed for better than 50 years before deciding to let someone else carry the risk for cash rent.
One Uncle stated it quite well about 8 years ago. He milked about 30 cows, had about 40 head of sows, chickens, a few ducks and geese. Farm about 300 acres and a garden. All this and made a decent living. Before he quite farming the milk cows were gone. No one wanted to pickup milk from 30 cows. The quality could not be regulated over dairy operations of that size. Hogs were gone. Could no longer raise for less than cost of production. Same went the chickens. No longer a market for duck or goose eggs.
He said we now buy every thing we eat in town as do many off our neighbors, we once only bought what we could not produce.
Yes that was the demise of the family farm - no longer self supporting and that was the designed government way.
Cheap food and energy keeps the peasants at peace.
 

themechanic

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I'm afraid I'm part of the problem. I only use Almond milk.

BTW, I suspect it's a lot easier to milk a cow. :)
 

mopar 3 B

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I quit drinking milk the day dad sold the bulk tank. Milk never tasted the same after that and store bought milk is just not milk. Now can not tolerate the stuff and use dairy only for baking.
 

PurpleBeeper

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There are many, many charities who give food to the starving masses. However there is so much graft at the top of those foreign countries that much of the food either goes to waste or is stolen and sold on the black market. There are many "stories" out there but one that sticks in my mind was an African nation (go figure) stricken by a severe drought and famine. Planeloads of food and water was flown in BUT the dictatorship of the country insisted that it be distributed using vehicle purchased in that country. As each criteria for distribution was met another was added on. Who knows if any ever got to the needy. Personally, I don't give a damn anymore about the starving masses. One group goes in distributing birth control and they're followed by the missionaries who tell them birth control is a sin. And so they reproduce like rats. But the government leaders are all living like kings and there is always a strong military. Its a scam. Have the world feel sorry for you and send aid and skim 90% of it (if not all) to line your pockets. So I disagree with you completely on that point. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day - teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. No freebees.
Whoah, that's pretty pessimistic, but honestly there's a lot of truth in what you're saying....too many crooks in the most impoverished countries....sad...but the USA can't fix all the problems. The citizens of those countries (all countries really) need to stop putting up with corruption. It would be nice if we could "partially control".....just a moderate nudge.....food product prices/values to make it more profitable for US farmers, even in bumper crop years.....high-volume exports seem like a good idea, but to who? I hear the China/soybean trade/tariff thing is killing the Midwest farmers. How do we develop a broader base of food product customers & increased product variety? How do we secure current customers? (e.g. soybeans to China or beef to Japan, etc.)
 

PP1RT

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The China thing has affected prices some but we have had three good years in a row giving us a large carryout. Throw in a bad in the next few years and supply will decrease. The good part of low prices is you get new end users (Plastics, soy ink etc.) When there is a weather event that disrupts normal production and prices rise we dont neccesarily come out ahead. A drought burns up your crop and you dont have as much to sell. High prices cut usage back and helps build up the carryout again. Trying to control all this is like trying to herd ducks so the government has a system of subsidies to help protect the farmer in the bad years so he is still around for the next year. It is not a perfect system but uncle sam want john q public to have cheap and plentiful food.
Did you know the majority of the Farm Bill is actually welfare and not ag subsidies?

And as far as feeding the starving and controlling the corruption....isnt that what the UN is for?
 

hawkeye

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Be thankful you had the chance to dairy all these years. I would have loved to milk about 50 cows and have a dozen sows to farrow and sell feeders. My family does not farm but my in laws do. I made a couple attempts into dairy but just didnt hit the market swings right to be able to get up and running. Fast forward 25 years and the stars aligned a little better and i am growing into the beef and row crop side. It is all on my dime(and some help from the bank) with no family money or equipment to help out. Still working 50hrs a week in town and a couple other side gigs to help out. Yes the margins are thin and still amounts to legalized gambling but we are making a go of it. I dont know what the future holds but am enjoying it while it lasts.

Just a side note to those in the big city. We dont just dump gobs of fertilizer on our crops. We cant afford to waste money like that. Lawns and golf courses use many many times the fertilizer per acre than we can afford. We do not just pour the chemicals to our crops. Simple economics do not allow it. We use the bare minimum to eliminate most but not all pests(weeds,insects,fungus,etc). These products are highly scrutinized and regulations are strictly enforced. We do not pour the antibiotics to our animals. We only use them when there is an injury or illness no different than you would for a family member. We cant afford to waste money like that.
Yes there have been and will be those that abuse the above. The media will take those stories and try to paint a broad picture of the ag industry as a whole. They are simply not how it works all over. Consider the source...

I hope I didn't come across as angry or bitter, in fact I feel unbelievable fortunate to have had such a wonderful career. What I do feel is a sense of profound loss for future generations. When a factory dairy milks 10000 cows it takes the place of maybe a 100 small dairies. That is a 100 farms and farmers that won't be buying a tractor or manure spreader from the local equipment dealer, running for the school board , taking care of the land that their father or grandfather passed down to them and most importantly, a 100 families who kids will never have the opportunity to grow up on a farm. What you do get is an employer that hires a lot of low paid migrant, illegals or other workers who remain on the fringes of the community. You get a land owner or renter that is more interested in quarterly or annual profits and works the land like a rented mule as opposed to worrying about the long term fertility and health of the soil that his grandson will be farming someday. When you farm 1000's of acres, you have to use A LOT of chemicals, you don't ever do a traditional crop rotation and the soil suffers. It is basically strip mining the farm. Whether you have your name on the deed or not, some people really think they own the land. The land was here long before us and will be here long after we are gone. We only have the use of it for a few precious years and you better damned well leave it in better shape than you found it. Industrial ag is not in the long term interest of the rural communities or the health of the land. It just seems that a whole way of life that our nation was founded on is passing away and most people don't know or really care.
 

PP1RT

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I hope I didn't come across as angry or bitter, in fact I feel unbelievable fortunate to have had such a wonderful career. What I do feel is a sense of profound loss for future generations. When a factory dairy milks 10000 cows it takes the place of maybe a 100 small dairies. That is a 100 farms and farmers that won't be buying a tractor or manure spreader from the local equipment dealer, running for the school board , taking care of the land that their father or grandfather passed down to them and most importantly, a 100 families who kids will never have the opportunity to grow up on a farm. What you do get is an employer that hires a lot of low paid migrant, illegals or other workers who remain on the fringes of the community. You get a land owner or renter that is more interested in quarterly or annual profits and works the land like a rented mule as opposed to worrying about the long term fertility and health of the soil that his grandson will be farming someday. When you farm 1000's of acres, you have to use A LOT of chemicals, you don't ever do a traditional crop rotation and the soil suffers. It is basically strip mining the farm. Whether you have your name on the deed or not, some people really think they own the land. The land was here long before us and will be here long after we are gone. We only have the use of it for a few precious years and you better damned well leave it in better shape than you found it. Industrial ag is not in the long term interest of the rural communities or the health of the land. It just seems that a whole way of life that our nation was founded on is passing away and most people don't know or really care.
No you didnt sound bitter at all. You are a little sad and so am i. There is something about walking in the barn on a cold winter morning and the cows are all laying down in their stalls. When the lights come on they all start getting up. They are just as glad to see you as you are to see them most days.
The days of the small farmer are going the way of the small town Mom and Pop stores. It is sad but that is the way it is....
 

SoCal440GTX

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I've always felt that American farmers, for the most part, are outstanding in their field.
 

PP1RT

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Your farmers and politicians whined and complained during the recent NAFTA negotiations about Canada's dairy subsidies and import restrictions. Sure, we can't buy milk for 99 cents a gallon but our dairy farms aren't the one's going under. The biggest problem is the U.S.'s overproduction and the lack of any control. Overproduction means farmers end up selling their product at rock bottom prices, barely scrape out a living and usually end up tossing in the towel to large conglomerates. And now they want access to our market !! The solution is not a larger market but lower production and higher prices. The U.S. dairy industry needs a marketing board to oversee heard size, production and pricing. Sure, consumer cost will increase but the choice is simple, pay more for US milk or have all the farms shut down and get your milk from China.
Canada has a quota system. In order to milk cows you have to buy someones quota. That alone is cost prohibitive for a young person to start out on their own. I believe your quota system will continue to make less farms milk more cows similar to what is happening to the American dairy industry. The big ones will just continue to buy out the little ones whereas here the large dairy can produce more for less than the small guy.
Same thing has already happened in the hog and poultry sectors. It may well happen with beef at some time. Guys are working on mastering cow/calf operations in hoop barns already. I have run the numbers and it is workable but the margins are still tighter than running cows on ground not fit for row crop and on the crop fields after harvest. It will be interesting to see what the future brings for the beef industry.
 

gkent

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high-volume exports seem like a good idea, but to who? I hear the China/soybean trade/tariff thing is killing the Midwest farmers. How do we develop a broader base of food product customers & increased product variety? How do we secure current customers?

And right there is the problem with "make America great again". In order to sell your product you have to have customers with money. To get money they have to sell their product. Your president is only seeing your side of the deal - export your products globally but put restrictions and tariffs on imports. Good luck with that model !!
 

cr8crshr

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The only times I use milk is when the recipe calls for it, on my occasional bowl of cereal. I use 1/2 and 1/2 also, and then the canned condensed Milk for backing and such. Yes I do putts around the kitchen and enjoy cooking. I will also use Butter Milk for a brine say with Chicken for either frying or tenderizing. Other than that, I don't use it much and cannot keep a quart for very long either. Almond Milk??? Not real IMHO. If it didn't come from a Cow then it is not real to me. But I do get it that those with a Lactose intolerance will substitute for it...cr8crshr/Tuck:usflag::usflag::usflag:
 
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