Drought could mean higher milk prices - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Drought could mean higher milk prices


Ripple effects from the drought continue to affect several corners of the agriculture industry. Dairy farmers in Plainview say they're concerned there will be less feed available for their cows. That could raise production costs by up to 40 percent.

We've brought you the struggles of cotton and corn producers. Dairy farmers feed their cows from several of those struggling South Plains crops. If there's less available for feed, you could ultimately pay more for milk.

The cows won't go hungry, but their price of lunch might be going up.

"Rain makes grain," said Brandon Bouma, manager at Legacy Farms in Plainview.

Rain drops have been few and far between. It's already plagued dry land farmers. Without help from mother nature, crops relying on irrigation need more of that expensive water. Now dairy farmers may feel the ripple effects of a record dry summer.

"If we don't have rain, we don't make feed that we need to be able to feed our cattle and support our industry," Bouma said. 

At Legacy Farms, the cows eat mostly local. "A lot of locally grown corn, milo, and wheat silages," Bouma said.

His particular operation pumps out around 50,000 gallons of milk per day, a lot of the expense comes from keeping the cows full.

"Commodities and feeding are about 50 to 55 percent of our livestock operations expenses," Bouma said.

He estimates that with less crops available for feed, it could raise costs up to 40 percent. "Hale County feeds about 45 million in feed every year, if that cost goes up 30 to 40 percent were looking at another 20 to 25 million dollars," said Bouma.

So how would that affect the cost of milk at the store?

"Our costs of production, we're estimating to be between 25 and 35 cents per gallon higher," said Bouma.

It still could take months before you see the effects. Bouma says dairy operations are working closely with farmers to try and salvage anything useable from abandoned crops.

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