Dairy farmers are losing money per hundredweight of milk on average

Dairy industry experts say it's been a tough five or so years for the dairy industry.

The past five years have been rough on dairy farmers, and many are feeling the brunt of input costs. The COVID-19 pandemic and federal milk price regulations changing are some of the main issues impacting dairies financially.

Danny Munch, an American Farm Bureau Federation economist, says dairy producers are having a hard time just breaking even.

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"So the ERS--economic research statistics show that on average, dairy farmers are losing over $6 per hundredweight, putting in about $27 a hundredweight and only coming back with $21 a hundredweight on average. For small farms under 50 cows, that jumps up to a loss of over $20 a hundredweight," he said.

University of Minnesota Extension Dairy Specialist Brad Heins has seen dairies diversify to try to improve profitability and combat financial struggles, such as adding dairy-beef production to their operation or on-farm processing.

"We've been seeing increased feed prices year over year, whether it's corn, commodities, alfalfa, and that's really affecting the bottom lines of the dairy farms. Milk prices increased in some parts of the last five years. But it's kind of softening now again, so it's kind of that feed milk balance really on a daily farm trying to make it work economically," he said.


AFBG is working to help dairy farmers with federal milk pricing reform.

Emily grew up on a corn, soybean and wheat farm in southern Ohio where her family also raises goats. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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