The challenges faced by dairymen and dairywomen are downright dire down on the farm.
So much so that 91 percent of Minnesota Milk members concurred with the following statement: “Minnesota dairy farmers are in a crisis, experiencing the worst economic conditions in years.”
The only statement that received even greater unanimity occurred when 97 percent of surveyed dairy farmers shared that “current economic conditions facing dairy farmers in Minnesota were poor.” Only 3 percent described that dairy economy as “fair” and not one person classified the situation as “excellent.”
Credit is tightening
When asked to describe their “current situation with lenders as to securing operating loans for your dairy,” 40 percent of farmers said they were facing a debilitating reality. More specifically:
• 15 percent need credit but lenders won’t extend any new loans.
• 25 percent can get financing, but the terms are unreasonable.
There was another perspective to the same question:
• 45 percent said financing is tighter than in the past, but the terms are manageable.
• 9 percent said they don’t need or plan to seek new financing this year.
An early April survey
This survey was commissioned by the Minnesota Milk Producers Association and took place between April 5 and April 24, 2019. The response rate varied between 19 to 26 percent based on the question. The Minnesota Milk Producers Association represents all sizes and dairy farming types, but the membership does trend toward slightly larger herd sizes than the state average.
In response to these survey results, the Minnesota Milk Producers Association has asked the Minnesota legislature to consider:
A state dairy margin insurance rebate that would provide dollars to dairy farmers enrolled in the federal Dairy Margin Coverage program.
Tax relief by adopting a conformity provision to the new federal tax law when farmers sell through cooperatives.
Conservation payments to eligible dairy farms that adopt sound conservation and sustainability practices.