I have been reading a lot lately about the struggle dairy farmers are facing in NY and across the Nation. The increasing costs are out-weighing the income the farmers receive from the milk. Some people are complaining about the price of milk but don’t bat an eye that an individual 20 oz bottle of Pepsi at Walmart is $1.78 and $4.38 for a single bottle of Water.
Our main office is in Madison NY and many of our customers, friends and families are farmers. The founding owner of our agency Bruce Tanner is a dairy farmer still to this day. Dairy farmers can’t take a day off, they can’t call in sick. It is back breaking labor, but it is a labor of love. They get up every day and go out in the rain, sleet, snow – just like the old postal service saying. However, even the postal service gets a day of rest.
With all that said, I wanted to try to help the dairy farmers by offering up some suggestions on how to cut your expenses on your dairy farm without sacrificing production or yield.
Feed/Seed: Check into early buy programs, feed & seed are commodities – shop around for the lowest price. Check with at least 3 suppliers. Consider the cost, convenience, credit terms and financing cost, and of course service.
Labor: Determine the needs for your dairy farm. To do that figure out the number of full-time workers, make sure you include unpaid volunteers and family members, part time (2=1); Then divide the total pounds of milk sold (from your milk check(s)) by the number of workers. Then you can compare your numbers to benchmarks. For small breed herds (Jerseys) the benchmark is 450,000 pounds for tie stall barns and 750,000 pounds for free-stall barns. If your number is lower than benchmark, then you could have an efficiency issue. If its around the right number or better than you are already doing a great job at managing your labor efficiently. Some of the most efficient herds will average 1,000,000 lbs of milk annually per person. If you find that you need to increase your efficiency, find fun ways to incentivize your farm goals. Challenge your milkers if they can get SCC down to a certain level monthly, then you will buy them a meal. You can even try incentivizing crop goals- if we get 1st cutting done by x date, everyone gets an extra day off this month. Harvesting crops early or on time is one of the best ways to increase production without increasing costs.
Supplies: Shop around. Just like your feed and seed. Shop around with multiple suppliers to find the best value for you, or consider buying in bulk to get a better rate per unit. Maybe postpone those machinery upgrades, since some upgrades may reduce the expense and increase the yield or it might boost your efficiency but not your yield.
Insurance: You didn’t think I would leave this out did you?? Some companies like Nationwide for example offer discounts to members of the Farm Bureau. Of course we can help you with that, as we are Nationwide agents and have Neil Collins are farm expert on staff (also a member of the Farm Bureau) to review your policy and be sure you are getting the best coverage for the least expensive price. He can take the work off your hands by shopping around with multiple companies.
It is a challenging time for our farmers. So… I say buy the milk! If you are are a farmer, we want to help any way possible.
If you want to help support the dairy industry, go to the store, buy 10 gallons of milk, and donate it to charity. Video yourself doing this, and challenge your friends to do the same on social media, using the hashtag #10gallonchallenge.
If you have any questions or need more information, contact Neil Collins directly at 315-893-7790. We are here for YOU!