Dairy Farms in America

Loss_of_family_farms

Fact: “Between 1970 and now, America has lost 88% of its dairy farms.” — David Gumpert, author of Raw Milk Revolution.

TRUEAmerica has lost 88% of farms with dairy cows between 1970 and 2006. 

According to  a 2007 report by the Economic Research Service (ERS) at the USDA, “between 1970 and 2006, the number of farms with dairy cows fell steadily and sharply, from 648,000 operations in 1970 to 75,000 in 2006, or 88 percent.”

The ERS at the USDA also notes that among farms with dairy cows, “the average herd size rose from just 19 cows per farm in 1970 to 120 cows in 2006.”

This is demonstrated by the chart included in the USDA report below:

USDA_Dairy_Farm_graph

Source: MacDonald, JamesErik O’DonoghueWilliam McBrideRichard Nehring, Carmen Sandretto, and Roberto Mosheim. “Profits, Costs, and the Changing Structure of Dairy Farming.” Economic Research Report No. (ERR-47) 41 pp, September 2007. United States Department of Agriculture. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err-economic-research-report/err47.aspx. 

However, not all types of dairy farms saw decreases. The USDA reports number of farms with 2000 milk cows has doubled from 2000 to 2006.

National Public Radio (NPR) reports that large dairy chains have become cartels in the milk market. According to NPR, “The price of raw milk paid to farmers has dropped to its lowest level in 40 years.”  Additionally, NPR notes how two entities control the milk market. 

The Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) is the nation’s largest dairy cooperative. It buys from 18,000 members and controls roughly a third of the nation’s milk supply.

Dean Foods bottles more than a third of the nation’s milk and buys from DFA.

This market control and the low cost of raw milk have driven many small family-owned dairies out of business.

In summary, Mr. Gumpert’s claim is correct. America has lost 88% of its dairy farms. 

Sources:

MacDonald, JamesErik O’DonoghueWilliam McBrideRichard Nehring, Carmen Sandretto, and Roberto Mosheim. “Profits, Costs, and the Changing Structure of Dairy Farming.” Economic Research Report No. (ERR-47) 41 pp, September 2007. United States Department of Agriculture. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err-economic-research-report/err47.aspx. 

Burnett, John. “Independent Farmers Feel Squeezed By Milk Cartel.” National Public Radio. 20 Aug. 2009. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112002639. 

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