Uncertainty continues to defeat Illinois dairy farms


Uncertainty continues to defeat Illinois dairy farms

Uncertainty is the theme surrounding the increase in herd reductions and Illinois dairy farmers leaving the business.

Illinois Milk Producers Association Manager Tasha Bunting tells Brownfield there is a lot weighing on dairy farmers right now.

“Whether it is feed costs or other inputs costs they may have on the farm, or milk pricing that is not profitable for a lot of our farms. Labor is also a huge issue and sometimes that is a major factor in whether not they stay in business. They are trying to manage what might work.”

She says in the last year or two, the loss of dairy farms slowed down, but it is picking back up.

“They are really looking at ways to cut additional costs to stretch that dollar a little bit further. There might be more herd reduction in some areas, and we will still see some smaller or even larger dairy businesses exit the industry.”

USDA data shows Illinois dairy cattle inventory dropped 16,000 head in the last decade, from 98,000 in 2011 to 82,000 in 2020.  

She says IMPA is working on ways to help keep producers in business, including dairy provisions in the 2023 Farm Bill. Brownfield interviewed Bunting during the 2021 Illinois State Fair.