September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Cow numbers even, production up, despite decline in farms in MN
"Cow numbers have been even at 465,000 since December of 2011, and even though we have lost a number of farms, we haven't lost cows from the state. They have been going to other farms," said David Weinand, grants administrator at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). That is reflected in the average number of cows on the state's farms, which was at 116 in November of 2012, up from 105 in 2010.
"Minnesota is on track for a one percent increase in production for 2012 from 2011. Minnesota is also up 4.5 percent in milk production in November of 2012, compared to November of 2011," said Weinand. The price of milk during the last quarter of 2012 tracks at the highest level in the last decade, with a $23.30 per hundredweight average in November.
The production increase "is a good thing, especially considering the dry weather. Additionally, I think sexed semen is playing a role. Producers have culled low-producing cows quicker, because they have more female heifer replacements that are starting to work into the system," said Weinand.
In one year, 272 dairy operations have left the dairy business in Minnesota, with 120 quitting in the last quarter of 2012. Since January of 2011, 476 operations have ceased shipping milk, according to statistics compiled by USDA National Agricultural Statistics and Agricultural Marketing Services.
As an explanation, Weinand said, "The high feed prices played a role and as farmers age, the number of people willing to step in are fewer." The trend for fewer dairy farms in Minnesota has been happening since the late '40s or early '50s, with further constriction to come. The average age of farmers in Minnesota is 55, based on 2007 U.S. Census data, which gives credibility to the trend of older farmers leaving the business as they retire.
"I certainly hope we don't see the trend of fewer farms continue. Those who are seriously considering retirement either have done it, or will do it in the next year," said Weinand. "But, those who have interest in the next generation will continue dairy farming in the future."
"We do have a service at MDA to make available a list of farms for sale in Minnesota. We have a list of farms with fewer than 50 cows and an equal number on a list for farms that have greater than 300 cows," says Weinand. The lists (though not exhaustive) are available through this web link: http://www2.mda.state.mn.us/webapp/props4sale/. You can contact Weinand at MDA to include a dairy operation on the list or get more information about livestock investment grants. His number is: 651-201-6646.
"We have had some inquiries of people who want to farm," says Weinand. "There are people looking for heifer facilities and people moving into the state."
Another rising trend for the year past is the mailbox price for milk produced on Minnesota dairy farms. "In general, 2012 started out rocky, but by the end of the year, prices rebounded creating additional opportunities for increased milk prices on average for Minnesota farmers," said Weinand.
"There is still room for optimism. I think the Upper Midwest (including Minnesota) will fare better in terms of maintaining the number of dairy cows in the state compared to other states. Veterinarians, nutritionists, creameries and dairy infrastructure are all here," he said.[[In-content Ad]]
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