Dean Foods recently sent a number of its farmers a letter saying they will not buy their milk after 90 days.
“Unfortunately, Dean Foods has made the difficult decision to end milk procurement contracts with a number of farmers in about 90 days,” said Reace Smith, director of corporate communications at Dean Foods. “We regret this decision had to be made.”
He said Americans are drinking less milk at a time when inventories are growing.
Debra Boyd, a Jersey dairy farmer in Cocke County, said farmers across the country are having a problem because the level of milk prices is dropping.
Boyd serves on a resolutions committee of Dairy Farmers of America, a cooperative of dairy farmers.
She said several dairy farmers in the Lakeway Area have been given the 90-day notice.
“The problem is there is no market that is accepting milk at this time. Milk is a perishable product so these farmers are in a dilemma. Prices have been dropping, and will continue to drop during the summer, so we are looking at the lowest milk prices in 20 or more years,” she explained.
Boyd expects dairies to liquidate their herds and send their cows to market. That will add stress to the price of beef cattle.
“There’s not a market for dairy cattle because of the excess of milk.
Some farmers may be able to go to grain farming but the situation is very stressful. In 1993 there were 54 dairy farms in Cocke County and now we have five, ranging from 50 to 200 head. Small farms are becoming a thing of the past,” Boyd said.
Boyd and her family operate the 110-head Boyd-Lee Jerseys Farm in the Long Creek community.
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