Fifth CWT takes out fewest cows, herds

July 17, 2008 07:00 PM
            Yesterday's announcement of Cooperatives Working Together's (CWT) fifth herd retirement program marks the smallest number of cows and herds accepted.
            The fifth round will send 25,474 cows to slaughter, and for the first time, 538 bred heifers, and empty 209 dairy operations. That represents about 440 million lb. of production.
            In contrast, the 2007 herd retirement program took out nearly 53,000 cows and emptied 333 dairies. "We look at what cows are selling for, and then come up with a reasonable level of what we're willing to pay to remove those cows,” says Jim Tillison, CWT coordinator. "We can't spend money like drunken sailors. We have to be fiscally responsible.”
            CWT coordinators accepted a third of the bids offered. "But we're not at all disappointed with the result we got. A half billion pounds of removed milk production is nothing to sneeze at,” he says. "Keep in mind that we had four rounds previous to this, and we've taken a lot of operations out with this program.”
            Counting this year's program, CWT has accepted 1,646 dairy operations. The number of herds bidding often reflects milk prices. For example, in 2003, more than 2000 herds submitted bids coming off very poor milk prices in 2002. In 2007, 1,374 bids were submitted following a very poor milk price year in 2006.
            Over the five rounds of CWT, roughly 30% of bids have been accepted. This year, although just 209 herds were accepted, they represented 34% of the bids submitted.

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