National Dairy Month

By Matt Reese

In the heart of this National Dairy Month, I just heard about another dairy farm in the area shifting away from milk production. Never for the faint of heart, the rigors of maintaining small- to mid-sized dairy operations are continually proving to be too much for producers to maintain. Ohio now has 251,000 cows on just 1,450 dairy farms. Our state was home to well over 3,000 dairy farms just 10 years ago.

Victims of their own success, dairy farmers just keep getting better at producing milk from their cows to the point that, despite continually increasing market demand, milk prices are not steadily high enough for smaller dairies to continue with the rigors of the demanding profession. Growing demand, though, does continue to be a bright spot for Ohio’s dairy producers, said Scott Higgins, president and CEO of the American Dairy Association Mideast in an interview with Joel Penhorwood.

“The dairy industry has been at the right place at the right time with the right product — ever since the consumers began to face the pandemic, they relied on the nutrient value of dairy. They went to the grocery store and there was plenty of product available. We had to shift away from food service, but that really allowed consumers to come back to dairy in a very strong way, recognizing the nutrient value and the benefits of dairy. It’s quite powerful for us to realize what an intricate value dairy foods are in the American diet. Dairy has done very well over the last few years and we’ve seen a lot of growth overall,” Higgins said. “I started with this checkoff back in 1984 when it started as a nationwide program. Back then, we were only selling 120 billion pounds of milk to the to the general public. At the close of 2022, we exceeded 232 billion pounds of sales. That’s over 112 billion pounds of growth. Per capita consumption is up. It went from 545 pounds per capita in 1983 to over 667 pounds per capita of dairy products consumed in 2021. The dairy industry has created so many new products for people to choose from. It doesn’t matter what kind of milk you want. If you want lactose free, we’ve got it. You want a2 milk, we’ve got it. If you want grass fed, we’ve got it. Organic, we’ve got it. We’ve got all the dairy you could ever need and ask for in a variety of ways that meet your personal desires and your personal interests.”

A particular bright spot for Ohio is the milk processing capacity in the state.

“We have 65 dairy processing and manufacturing facilities in Ohio and we’re actually importing milk from other states around us to meet that demand. I’m always in a growth mindset. Our dairy farmers want to be able to expand and be able to keep their families on their farms. And, for those farmers who are ready to exit, they’ve done a great job, they spent their careers milking cows and they’re looking for a way out. There are other families wanting to get involved and they want to expand, so I believe the dairy industry in Ohio has an opportunity to expand,” Higgins said. “I believe the future for dairy is strong in Ohio because we are going to continue to pursue new processors to select Ohio to build in to be able to create that new product that we have even yet to produce in the United States that’s going to come. When there are new products, new demand is always going to find what’s new for consumers and give them what they want, when they want it and how they want it at the price they want it. We are in a great position to encourage those businesses to choose Ohio for us and our dairy farm families to sell milk to and be successful moving forward.”

Check Also

HPAI webinar for backyard poultry

Penn State Extension’s poultry team will host a webinar to provide updates and biosecurity strategies …

One comment

  1. Making the best decisions for your life is a challenge in the interesting life simulator BitLife. Are you prepared to face all the obstacles the world has to offer, including a complicated life filled with difficult choices, many ups and downs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *