A longtime dairy farmer says some producers won't survive 2009.
Bill Herr of Greenwood, who serves on a number of national dairy boards, says the tail-end of 2008 presented a perfect storm of factors that pushed milk prices from $20 per hundredweight to $10, or below. He says predictions for the coming year have prices remaining low.
The last time milk prices were this low was in 2002, and the industry survived. However, Herr says feed, fuel and fertilizer prices are much higher than they were then, making it much harder for dairy farmers to keep going.
Herr adds that farmers were able to borrow to make ends meet in 2002. He says that probably won't be the case this year with many lenders requiring down payments of nearly 40-percent before they'll lend them money.
The MILC safety net has kicked in already, but Herr says most farmers would prefer not to rely on government subsidies to stay in business.
The dairy industry contributes $20.6 billion to the state's economy.