Dairy farmers struggling with low prices

Dairy farmers struggling with low prices

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

After years of work cotton producers finally got the relief needed to keep them from blowing away. 

Dairy producers were included in the same Ag relief bill attempting to help dairymen stay afloat given the devastating low prices. 

Those low prices leaving a number of dairy producers struggling to break even.

"Right now we're losing money and I think for a lot of dairy farms in this part of the country they have to be around $15, $16 to make some progress," said John Devos, owner of Fox Dairy in Plainview, Texas. 

He is talking about what the price needs to be before dairies can start turning profits again. Right now prices are hovering around $13 per 100 lbs, or about nine gallons. That is down about $10 from the record highs back in 2014.

"I think if you look at the world wide, we're in an oversupplied market and that's why the milk prices are not very good right now," Devos said.

The dairy industry has been clamoring for help since support pricing was stripped from the 2014 Farm Bill and replaced with protections of producers margins.

When Congress reinstated both cotton and dairy in the Farm Bill at the beginning of Feb, it strengthen these producer margins, meaning they are on less of a hook for the losses. It also increased the volume of milk that is insurable, up to five million pounds. 

Devos said it is great for average sized dairies elsewhere in the country but on the South Plains it is not nearly enough.

"When you have an area like this area where you have 2,000 or 3,000 dairy cows, that five million pounds is only a little bit of what the total milk production is. So for us, the larger dairy producers in the United States, all these changes they made to the present farm bill don't have that big of an impact for us."

Despite lawmakers efforts many dairymen are desiring more. More to be done about the low prices crippling the industry. 

"Bad prices only get solved by lower milk production and how do you get lower milk production if there's no incentive anywhere, is people go broke somewhere. It's sad to say as producers who are wanting to look forward, but we are kind of waiting for a number of guys to quit."

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