WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Times are changing for those involved in the agriculture industry, but dairy producers are the ones seeing some of the biggest changes with limited market options for selling their milk.
Chris Hurt, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, said that the dairy industry is seeing uncertain times as there continues to be a transition from small family dairies to larger scaled, more industrialized dairies which have advanced technology and more productivity.
“It is a difficult time for traditional family dairies to compete with larger dairies,” he said.
Hurt said that over time another issue dairy farms face is when family members who perform labor on the farm receive better job opportunities off the farm.
“Family dairy farms don’t draw back the young people like they used to. Young people need to have some type of financial return,” he said.
Hurt noted that another issue dairy farmers are facing across the country is the increase in milk production.
“Milk per cow per year continues to rise which leads to a higher milk production,” he said, adding that milk receives a lot of competition from other beverages.
“Milk supplies are high, and the demand isn’t strong, at least for fluid milk consumption,” he said.
Hurt said that producers need to make at least $18 per hundredweight of milk to break even and start to make a profit.
“Dairy farmers have not seen those prices. Last year, it was $17.65 per hundredweight, and this year, they are $16.20 per hundredweight,” he said.