Local dairy farms battle low milk prices

Local dairy farms battle low milk prices

PAVILION, N.Y. (WIVB)- Noblehurst Farms is a larger dairy farm in Upstate New York.

The 1,500 milking cows there churn out nearly 14,000 gallons of milk daily.

The farm’s business manager Thomas Matthews says despite being a larger operation, Noblehurst isn’t immune to some of the challenges facing the American dairy industry.

Around the country, dairy farmers are up against less consumption, fewer exports, and declining prices.

“The things that are contributing to this low milk price right now is overproduction in the United States or oversupply, and then lack of demand,” Matthews tells News 4.

Farmers measure milk prices by how much they make per 100 pounds; that hit a high in 2014 of about $27 per 100 pounds.

Currently, is down to below $17 per 100 pounds.

“What’s made this year especially hard is that it’s been a three year drought you might say,” Matthews says.

In the past, price valleys have always been short lived.

This time around Matthews says, lenders might be less optimistic.

Noblehurst has had to diversity how it makes money; that means leaning less on milk alone.

“We built a digester which is producing electricity from the manure. The cow’s manure gets turned into methane and we burn that methane off.”

The Pavilion farm has also partnered with eight other dairy farms and built a cheese plant, which opened in 2016.

It’s all about connecting more directly with the consumer, Matthews tells News 4.

Matthews, who comes from a dairy farming family in Pennsylvania, says the “shop local” movement has helped dairy farms some.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is proposing a “price floor” for milk. It’s all laid out in her bill, the Dairy Farm Sustainability Act.

It passed, the measure would pay farmers a portion of money from the U.S. Treasury to help make-up for low milk prices.

Matthews isn’t sure that’s a good long-term solution.

“My fear is that if there is a floor and from past ag economics,  I think it’s going to create oversupply.”

Milk prices are expected to stabilize next month.

I they don’t Matthews says, smaller family farms could be in trouble.

“I think we’re cautiously optimistic about the future milk price. But we’re not going anywhere.”

Source: Buffalo New York’s Latest News
Local dairy farms battle low milk prices

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