Dairy Dilemmas

June 10, 2009 07:00 PM

*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.

Kevin Phillips
Waynesboro, Va.
In our area, consumers would like to buy milk produced locally. That's hard to accomplish when processors have national names and brands. I know of only one or two private processors left in my state. All others have been bought out by a national processor and then have closed down, eliminating the competition.

Fluid milk in the Southeast is rBST-free. If you ask consumers at a grocery store about that, the majority don't understand what you are talking about. They assume that if they are purchasing local, it is a safe product. We need to spend more advertising dollars to educate the public about our nutritious, wholesome product.

Several years ago we applied for and received some grants to build a methane digester. A feasibility study determined that operating the digester would cost three times what we pay for electricity. We wanted to be dairy farmers, not an electric company.

I'd love to have a small, private fluid plant in our area that we could sell our milk to and provide the community with a truly local commodity. The way the federal milk marketing system is set up, it will not happen -- unless you have developed a niche product exclusively for your area where you can process and market it yourself.

Phillips' April Prices  
Milk (3.5% bf, 3.0% prt): $1.87cwt. (gross)
Cull cows: $53/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,350/head
Alfalfa hay (if you can find it): $200/ton
Cottonseed: $240/ton
Ground corn:  $190/ton
Soybean meal (48%): $445/ton

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