Dairy farmers’ revenues soar in 2007

Cash receipts from the sale of milk produced in New York state totaled $2.4 billion in 2007, up a wh

Cash receipts from the sale of milk produced in New York state totaled $2.4 billion in 2007, up a whopping 47.7 percent from 2006.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service New York field office released 2007 milk production statistics Monday.

New York Farm Bureau spokesman Peter Gregg said some of the increase in revenues to milk farmers should be attributed to increased global demand for dairy proteins in countries such as China and India. He said some of the jump simply has to do with the recent history of milk prices.

“The previous year was perhaps the worst year in dairy history, so going up anywhere from there is good,” Gregg said.

New York dairy farmers received an average of $19.70 per hundredweight for all milk sold in 2007, up $6.30 from the average hundredweight price in 2006, $13.40.

Just as corn feed prices spiked, attributed by some to federal subsidy of corn-based ethanol production, the federally mandated basement price for locally produced milk rose steadily last year from January’s price of $15.09 per hundredweight to a record high of $25.01 per hundredweight of class 1 drinking milk in August 2007. Since then, the price has tapered off to $19.95 per hundredweight in March.

Gregg said farmers’ production costs have skyrocketed alongside rising sales revenue.

“Currently, as we go into the next growing season, we’re looking at record-high diesel prices of $4 a gallon and fertilizer costs have doubled. So the [milk] price is certainly more favorable to the farmer, but costs have gone up just as fast,” he said.

According to USDA NASS, total milk production in New York was 12.1 billion pounds in 2007, up slightly from 2006, even as the annual average number of milk cows slipped 1.7 percent to 627,000 milk cows. Annual output per cow averaged 19,303 pounds, up 2.2 percent from 2006.

Gerry Casgrove, the New York state deputy agricultural commissioner who focuses on dairy, said the increased milk production from cows represents better management on the part of farmers as they respond to demand.

“Some farmers are using a higher quality of feed. Quite often, they feed the cows more often and will milk the animal three times a day,” Casgrove said. “Some farmers will also use recombinant bovine growth hormone, which in most instances has been shown to increase production 5 to 10 percent.”

Total U.S. milk production increased 2.1 percent in 2007 to 186 billion pounds, with cash receipts for milk totaling $35.4 billion, up 51.4 percent. The average rate per cow was 20,267 pounds, up 316 pounds above 2006. The annual average number of milk cows on farms was 9.16 million head, up 46,000 head from 2006.

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