Recent figures released by the United States Department of Agriculture illustrate that from 2008 to 2018, 19,659 dairy farmers left their farms across the United States.

However, the remaining 37,468 dairy farmers produced 27,593 billion pounds more of milk in 2018 than was produced in 2008.

Wisconsin dairy farmers clearly illustrated what is going on in the dairy industry. In 2008, Wisconsin dairy farmers were producing 24.4 billion pounds of milk. This figure increased to 30.5 billion pounds of milk in 2018. The amazing thing is, during those 10 years, Wisconsin lost 5,230 dairy farms. The number of dairy farms in Wisconsin is down to 8,500.

California still produces the most, at 40.4 billion pounds of milk per year, which is a small drop, with a decline of 570 dairy farms in 2018.

The states of Wisconsin, Idaho, New York, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington and Colorado made up the bulk of the increased production during those 10 years.

Pennsylvania dairy farmers only increased by 90 million pounds of milk while losing 1,470 dairy farmers.

The top 10 milk-producing states are California, Wisconsin, Idaho, New York, Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington.

When you look at the production figures by state, you realize the average yearly production for the dairy farmer in New Mexico is approximately 55 million pounds against Pennsylvania’s yearly production per farm still at about 1.75 million pounds. So obviously New Mexico has huge mega-farms, and Pennsylvania still has the average small family farms.

When you look at Wisconsin’s average yearly production, you notice with Wisconsin losing 5,230 dairy farms, the largest loss by far by any state, coupled with an increase in yearly production of 6 billion pounds, this changed the average yearly production per farm from slightly under 2 million pounds per year up to 3.75 million pounds. This is significant.

Please remember that the value of milk classified in all Federal Milk Marketing Orders is the same. No one seems to complain about this, while realizing the cost of production is different on all dairy farms.

So tell me, why is it wrong to price milk to dairy farmers on the national average cost of producing milk?

In my opinion using the dairy farmers’ cost of production is the simple and right way to price milk to our dairy farmers. We have stumbled and bumbled along too long. Some Congressmen have asked about the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act. It should be looked at again.

Any method used to price milk to dairy farmers without considering the dairy farmers’ cost certainly borders on being criminal. To continue to price milk on the present method will only ensure the demise of many of our remaining dairy farmers.

Pro-Ag can be reached at 570.833.5776.

Arden Tewksbury, Pro Ag