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Missouri dairy cow numbers stabilize, production rank drops

The government’s count of Missouri dairy cows stabilized, but less production per cow resulted in slippage in the state’s production rank.

Missouri is the 26th largest dairy producer in the U.S., edged out of 25th place by Nebraska in the latest USDA ranking.  The state’s dairy cow count – at 88,000 – leveled off for two years in a row after falling for several years.  Missouri Dairy Association (MDA) President Ted Shepard tells Brownfield producers with fewer cows find it hard to compete.

“Small producers basically can’t take advantage of quantity discounts on feed or quantity premiums paid because you produce more milk,” Shepard told Brownfield Ag News at a June Dairy Month event held in Springfield, Missouri, “so operating on much smaller margins, well when they have problem on the farm that costs a lot of money, a lot of times they can’t cover the expense.”

Other contributing factors in fewer producing dairy cows in Missouri are difficulty in getting and keeping labor, says Dave Drennan, executive director of the MDA, adding that many dairy producers have aged out of the business.

In spite of declining cow numbers, Shepard says dairy’s impact on Missouri’s economy is significant.

“We still have a little under a thousand producers in Missouri,” said Shepard.  “Total consumption of dairy products is about $3.5 billion a year, so a huge impact.”

AUDIO: Ted Shepard (3 minutes MP3)

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