Sponsored by Lane Powell

Got milk glut? Dairies struggle

| Print |  Email
Archives - November 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oregon dairy farmers have been losing money since the financial crisis drove down milk prices last fall.

Farmers don’t see many options besides continuing to sell at a loss, since cows must be milked regularly and farms can’t cut costs without compromising their health and milk. No one wants to buy dairy cows, and selling cattle for ground beef is a last resort. Most farmers are now relying on credit and savings to stay in business.

A program created and funded by dairy producers offers buyouts to farmers who are ready to retire, but it has raised the price of milk by just $.71 per hundred pounds. The average price paid to Oregon dairy farmers in 2008 was $20.11 per hundred pounds of milk; the average for 2009 to date is $10.94. Most farmers need prices in the $15 range in order to break even.

A few Oregon farmers have gone out of business, says Jim Krahn, executive director of the Oregon Dairy Farmer’s Association. He expects more farmers will close down before prices stabilize at a sustainable level.

“I’ve essentially lost everything that I’ve worked for in the last 20 years,” says Louie Kazemeir of Rickreall Dairy in Polk County, where 1,600 cattle produce 4 million pounds of milk a month. Kazemeir estimates he’s losing between $6,000 and $8,000 a day, totaling $1.2 million so far in 2009.

The good news is that milk prices seem to have turned around; the futures market shows enough of an increase in November’s prices to make some farmers a profit. But even as farmers recover, complex subsidies and pricing formulas ensure that the industry will continue to boom and bust. The answer is more regulation, Kazemeir says.

“We need to get production controls across the country to avoid this again,” he says. Milk prices were low in 2005 but rose to historic highs in 2007, when farmers added cows to cash in. When prices dove back down, some farmers were still paying off the loans they had taken out to add capacity.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said last month that the dairy industry must be restructured to be less volatile. In the meantime, dairy farmers are getting a modest bailout: $290 million in direct payments and $60 million for the government to buy cheese.

ADRIANNE JEFFRIES
 

Comments   

 
Cynthia Brink
0 #1 Milk prices and sustainablityCynthia Brink 2010-06-02 19:09:40
What is the current word on CSA for consumers to support local dairies that are sustainable? And how can the public become more aware of SARE and participants in these programs?
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

2015 100 Best companies announced

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 0022cneditBY OB STAFF

The 100 Best list recognizes large, medium and small companies for excellence in work environment, management and communications, decision-making and trust, career development and learning, and benefits and compensation.


Read more...

10 Twitter highlights from #OR100Best

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
100bestBY OB STAFF

Oregon Business held its  22nd annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon celebration Thursday night in the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...

Where do Portland demographics rank among the largest 50 cities in the US?

The Latest
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
thumbpdxinperspectiveBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The Portland in Perspective study, done by the City Budget Office, was released Tuesday.


Read more...

VIDEO: The 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015

videothumbVIDEO: 2015 100 Best Companies to work for in Oregon


Read more...

Game On

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The big news at Oregon Business is we’re getting a ping pong table. After reading the descriptions of the 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon, a disproportionate number of which feature table tennis in the office, I decided it was time to bring our own workplace into the 21st century. It was a tough call, but it’s lonely at the top, and someone has to make the hard decisions.


Read more...

Carbon Power

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Researchers in a multitude of disciplines are searching for ways to soak up excess carbon dioxide, the compound that contributes to global warming.


Read more...

Photos from the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon awards celebration

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 9975cneditPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the 2015 celebration of Oregon's great workplaces.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS