Illinois dairy specialist reviews industry changes
A lifelong dairy specialist has seen many changes in the industry over the last 40 years.
Former University of Illinois Extension Dairy Specialist Dave Fischer tells Brownfield one of the biggest changes he has seen has been the decline in number of dairy farms across the nation.
“We see probably about 550 to 560 dairy farms left in the state of Illinois and you know, 20 years ago we were probably well over 1,000 plus.”
Meanwhile, he says the number of cows farmers must have in their herd to remain profitable has jumped up.
“You need about 1.5 million pounds of milk produced per family member per year. So, if you have two brothers that are working together that means that they have to have 3 million pounds of milk.”
Fischer says that means a 50 cow herd is no longer profitable without added value or technology to replace labor.
But Fischer says the industry is still alive and well and with milk prices rising, “Now we are seeing more light at the end of the tunnel.”
Fischer is now retired but continues to work closely with dairy groups including the Illinois Milk Producers Association. Brownfield interviewed Fischer at the Illinois Dairy Summit in Bloomington.