ND Farmers Union wants to increase milk price protections as dairy prices continue to slump

Published: Jul. 8, 2016 at 4:29 PM CDT
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It's hard to believe but the dairy industry can at times be more volatile than the stock market.

In the past two years prices have swung from record highs to record lows.

Cows produce approximately the same amount of milk everyday. The price paid for that commodity changes significantly based on factors in Europe that farmers here can't control.

"The dairy farmers over there started milking cows like there's nothing left to do but milk cows and so there's lots of milk and we're in a global market. So that puts pressure on the whole world as far as milk where it's going to go," says Kenton Holle, Northern Lights Dairy.

The North Dakota farmers Union is wanting to increase milk price protections but some state dairy farmers don't want the government to get involved.

"Trying to come up with a solution because it just seems logical that we shouldn't punish a system of great food production by continually having prices below the cost of production," says Mark Watne, ND Farmers Union.

Dairy safety nets haven't worked well in the past according to Kenton Holle.

"We had a price support program, we did away with it. we don't need it, i don't think that. I have yet to see or hear of anything on the national level as far as milk producers that are looking for price support programs," says Holle.

Two years ago the price per hundred weight was just over $24, today it's at about $14 per hundred. At that price producers are struggling to just break even.

The number of dairy farms in the state has decreased from well over 500 in 2002 to about 90 today.