Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heat rises (and milk production drops)

A reporter from WCBI-TV came to our farm this afternoon to interview my father and I about the effect of summer heat on milk production. You can read his article or watch the video (story begins at the 8:18 mark) from the station's website.
David Gilmer is interviewed by WCBI

Most of what he included from the interview served to support the story he was shooting for: summertime milk production and its impact on retail dairy prices. In reality there is much more to that relationship than simple supply and demand, but to even begin to explain the complexities of milk marketing would require more time than a reporter is going to be allotted during a half-hour local newscast.  

A few more notes about the story and summertime production:

  • Summer is our toughest time of the year financially with less income from milk sales and higher expenses due to growing feed. It's like this every year though, so we manage our business throughout the year with that reality in mind.
  • We "dry off" pregnant cows nearly every week
    during the summer. These will calve in mid-September .
  • Since production does decrease in the summer, we manage our herd to have the fewest number of cows milking in July and August. Doing so allows us to have the most cows milking when the weather is more favorable for production.
  • My answer about dairies facing credit availability problems dates back to the milk price crash in 2009, though I'm not sure if the situation is still as dire today as it was two years ago. Fortunately, we've always maintained a good relationship with our local bank and credit has always been available when needed.
  • I really do believe the long-term outlook for dairies is positive. It may take us a few more years to fully adjust our business model to the new reality of feed, fuel, and fertilizer costs being much higher than ten years ago, but we'll get there. As long as we can continue to grow demand for dairy products both domestically and worldwide, there will always be a need for dairy farmers.
If you watch the story, please leave a comment and let me know your impressions. I watch stories about my industry as a dairy farmer, so I always need to get the thoughts of consumers to help me expand my own perspective. So, what did you think?


Anonymous said...

I saw the interview on Farmweek last night & really was impressed. When my grandson gets older (5months now) I hope I can edopt a cow for him. Also I have passed along your web site to a friend who has a 1 & 2nd grader. I think they would like to edopt.
I caught the tailend of the WCBI portion, but all on Farmweek.

Will Gilmer said...

Thanks! We should have our Edopt-a-Cow program ready for action in late August/early September.