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Quality Boosts Demand

May 30, 2012


TravisLarsonTravis Larson

Okeechobee, Fla.

Larson is a third-generation dairy producer in southern Florida, milking 4,200 cows.




The first thing that comes to mind when I think about ways to keep and improve demand for milk products is quality. Retailers and consumers have demanded quality, and dairymen across the country are improving their on-farm techniques to meet this demand.

Lowering the somatic cell count (SCC) to 400,000 cells/ml is one obvious way to improve the quality of our product and extend shelf life for retailers and consumers. Our co-op, Southeast Milk, has implemented the Q-factor bonus system that is funded by co-op producers. It’s based on meeting SCC, bacteria, preliminary incubation (PI) and laboratory pasteurization count (LPC) criteria.

We provide our employees with bonuses for staying under the levels set by the Q-factor program. Milk quality is the most direct way our operation can contribute to maintaining or improving the demand for milk products.

While dairy farmers do not traditionally produce convenient, value-added dairy products, I think we should support and work with companies who are increasing the amount of dairy products used in new ways. McDonald’s is a great example of a company that has successfully introduced several new beverages that use large amounts of milk products.

Also, Domino’s introduced the American Legends line of pizzas a couple years ago. These pizzas use increased amounts of high-quality cheese. Teaming up with franchises that can provide convenient and quality dairy products is a great way to boost demand.

Schools are another area where we want to provide convenient and great-tasting milk options to create lifelong milk drinkers. Students should have the opportunity to choose flavored milk to meet their nutritional needs. Milk and dairy vending machines are another way to help students stay healthy while allowing schools to benefit as well. The NFL’s "Fuel Up to Play 60" program is helping schools across our country promote and serve dairy products.

Providing ample opportunities for students to consume high-quality milk products ensures that they are getting the nutrition they need while increasing demand for dairy.

Several other products and ideas also come to mind when thinking about increased demand for new dairy products. Some of them are Greek yogurts, higher-protein frozen yogurt, meal replacement drinks, coffee drinks, specialty cheeses, and export and ethnic markets.

As dairymen, our primary responsibility is to produce high-quality milk, which can then be used in any one of these product avenues. We are fortunate to produce a food that provides such excellent nutrition that its versatility is almost endless. 


Larson's Most Recent Prices  
Milk (3.6% bf, 3.4% prt) $20.88/cwt.
Cull cows $85/head
Springing heifers $1,600/head (delivered)
Cottonseed $278/ton
Corn $299/ton
Soybean meal $431/ton
Citrus pulp $176/ton
Distillers' grain $250/ton


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