These are very difficult times for dairy producers. Currently, dairies are losing $4 per cow per day, as a general rule. That means a 500-cow dairy is losing $2,000 a day or $60,000 a month.
Meanwhile, the social and political pressures on dairy farmers keep mounting.
The climate-change energy bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in late June is downright scary. It would raise energy cost, as utilities and oil companies find ways to pass the regulatory cost (and the infrastructure needed to develop new forms of energy) onto consumers. The American Farm Bureau Federation has come out against it. Yes, a few dairies with methane digesters may be able to make money off of carbon offsets. But very few dairies have digesters. Of the roughly 1,750 dairy farms in California, fewer than 20 have methane digesters, according to the July 7 New York Times. Many aren’t in a situation where they can take advantage of wind turbines and no-till cropping practices either. It is yet to be seen whether the Senate passes similar legislation. The Chinese must be laughing at us, because while we continue to put a stranglehold on our growth, they continue on unimpeded.
A couple of other examples:
In this month’s issue of Dairy Herd Management, our cover story discusses some outrageous situations in California where dairies were given one week’s notice that their workers would be voting to form a union. In those cases where the union succeeded, the farm owners had a lot more rules to deal with and spent much of their time simply ensuring compliance with those rules.
•Animal-rights advocates continue to make unsubstantiated and ridiculous claims against the livestock industry. When Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, was interviewed in early July by the AgriTalk radio network (owned by the same company that owns Dairy Herd Management), we transmitted his comments in real-time to our readers — even tweeting his comments on Twitter. It is obvious from the lively discussion on Twitter that the animal-rights groups are well-funded and come across as very smooth or “slick” to the general public. These groups pose a big threat to animal agriculture.
I could go on and on about the potential threats. Suffice it to say, you are getting hit from all sides.
We have created a Web site that is intended to provide some possible resources for dealing with these threats. Please go to: www.dairyherd.com/crisis and check out our Crisis Management Resource Center.