Lowering milk prices spelling trouble for local farmers - Hometownstations.com-WLIO- Lima, OH News Weather Sports

Lowering milk prices spelling trouble for local farmers

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The average for milk prices have dropped this year to $14.43 per 100 pounds of milk, a 38 percent decrease from just 4 years ago. The average for milk prices have dropped this year to $14.43 per 100 pounds of milk, a 38 percent decrease from just 4 years ago.
Looking into the future - it's not entirely clear what farmers may have to do to keep up with some of the changes in the industry. Looking into the future - it's not entirely clear what farmers may have to do to keep up with some of the changes in the industry.

The average for milk prices have dropped this year to $14.43 per 100 pounds of milk, a 38 percent decrease from just 4 years ago.

For Lou Brown, lower milk prices mean less money coming in for his farm in New Bremen - something that he has to keep in mind as the summer months come closer.

"For this particular farm, you’re looking at $30-$60 per day of an extra electric cost just to keep the cows cool [in summer] - so that’s a good time to add a little money to your milk check, not take a huge amount away from your milk check," said Brown. "Will we be able to make all our payments, or will we have to get a loan - that’s what we have to worry about for the next 8, 10, 12 months for sure."

A big reason for the drop in prices, says Anita Green with the Auglaize County Farm Service Agency, comes from the industry changing quite a bit from decades ago, into one that faces a lot of influences from the places that buy the milk from farms.

"We’re seeing some concentration, we’re seeing a concentration both on the wholesale level, looking at processors, from the 1960s into the current date we've gone from 5,000 processors down to 350 to 400 nationwide, so that’s a significant decrease in the number of milk processors," said Green, who is the executive director of the Auglaize County Farm Service Agency.

Looking into the future - it's not entirely clear what farmers may have to do to keep up with some of the changes in the industry.

"I think it will be very competitive and remain competitive for smaller dairies to stay in business, whether or not they’re able to niche out to smaller markets, the farmers are going to have to find their way through that," said Green.

Brown also says that so far Ohio has lost 59 farms since January, and if the trend continues, 80 to 100 farms could be lost from the state by the end of the year.

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