Many local dairy farms have been forced out of business in recent years.
By: Monica Casey
A low milk price at the grocery store might seem like a good thing for your wallet, but it can actually hurt local dairy farmers.
Most dairy farmers need $19 per hundred-weight of milk to be profitable.
According to The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Brian Gould, in 2015, the price was $17.13.
In 2016, it had dropped to $15.97, and in 2017, the price was back up to $17.54.
In 2018, prices are set to be around $14 and lower.
“It was very much a joy to grow up on a family farm,” said Teresa Callender. “I’m the sixth generation on the dairy farm.”
Walkup Holsteins has been in operation for a century.
Due to competitive milk prices in Europe, Canada, and here at home, they’re forced to look at other options.
“We are basically looking at diversifying,” said Callender. “We have tried to control our expenses, and we’ve got them pulled down to the point that we just, we can’t pull them down a whole lot further.”
“We are being more efficient, and more efficient,” said Randy Inman.
Mar-Bil Farm has three generations.
“Our grandkids want to farm,” said Inman.
His daughter Karen, her husband Jason, and their three children also live and work on the farm.
“It’s going to be hard for us to sustain that until they grow up,” said Hewitt.
“We haven’t been replacing equipment,” said Inman. “We need to! You know?”
Simply adding more cows to an operation is not always an option.
“We just don’t have the facilities and, obviously, we can’t expand right here,” said Callender.
“I feel like it’s going to take the government kind of intervening,” said Hewitt.
Some expenses, such as caring for the cows, won’t go away.
“We can’t jeopardize their health and just not do those type of things, so those expenses will always be there,” said Callender.
You can help by trying to purchase locally-produced milk when you shop.
The Rockingham Cooperative is also partnering with the Harrisonburg Baptist Church to purchase cheese made from local milk, and donate it to those in need in the area.