Sponsored by Oregon Business

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

10 quotes explaining crisis at Port of Portland

The Latest
Friday, February 20, 2015
022015 port portland OBM-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The ongoing labor disputes at the Port of Portland came to a head two weeks ago when Hanjin, the container port's largest client, notified its customers it would be ending its direct route to Oregon.


Read more...

100 Best: The Power of the Worker

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
AND AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Technology is empowering people like never before and transforming how employees interact in the workplace. How can companies attract and keep staff engaged in this rapidly changing world?


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...

Courtside

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Power lunching at the Court Street Dairy Lunch in Salem.


Read more...

How Oregon will survive the loss of Hanjin

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT | OB CONTRIBUTOR

"Shipping containers to Portland is like waiting for a bus that travels once a day."


Read more...

Footloose

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Founded 12 years ago, Keen Inc. likes to push the envelope, starting with the debut of the “Newport” closed toe sandal in 2003. Since then, the company has opened a factory on Swan Island and a sleek new headquarters in the Pearl District. The brand’s newest offering, UNEEK, is a sandal made from two woven cords and not much more.


Read more...

On the Brink

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Leslie Carlson channels the big idea.


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