Tough times for dairy farmers

PNT photo: Argen Duncan Pimpi Trillo (left) and Isabel Vicuna work in the milking parlor at Anderson Dairy near Portales. Due to the current global economic troubles, dairies are struggling with low milk prices.

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

Area dairy farmers, like their counterparts around the nation, are struggling financially due to the global economic downturn.

Alan Anderson of Anderson Dairy near Portales said milk prices are
low and many dairies, including his, are locked into high-priced feed
contracts set when predictions for milk prices were much higher.

“Those two things that have come together in this situation are
going to make it really hard for dairy farmers in 2009,” he said.

Anderson said dairy farmers are seeing monthly financial losses.

David Darr, vice president of sustainability and public affairs for
dairy-marketing cooperative Dairy Farmers of America, said milk
production in the United States and around the world continues to grow
at a rate of 1 to 1.5 percent this year.

In 2007 and 2008, he said, the demand for dairy products increased in China, the Middle East and Mexico.

“Then as we’ve seen the economic crisis ripple from the United
States to other countries, growth in dairy demand has slowed,” Darr
continued.

As a result, less milk is being purchased than produced, he said.
The U.S. has an increased supply, putting a downward pressure on market
prices.