National milk excess brings down MS dairy farmer sales

National milk excess brings down MS dairy farmer sales

LUMBERTON, MS (WDAM) - June is recognized as National Dairy Month as a way to promote drinking milk, but an excess in milk production nationally is driving down sales for dairy farmers in the Magnolia State.

Kiahnell Smith is co-owner of Country Girl's Creamery in Lumberton. He has been a dairy farmer for more than 30 years.

"At our farm we process 85 percent of our own milk," Smith said. "We make butter, we make cheese, chocolate milk, we do a lot of kid's groups."

Smith said now is one of the toughest times for the dairy industry.

"Milk prices are almost at record lows when you figure in input costs and everything," Smith said. "But the average daily farmer is getting around $13 a hundred for milk right now, which is about $1.10 or $1.15 a gallon."

This is compared to the $20 per hundredweight farmers received last year.

Smith said the low milk costs have not had too much of a negative impact on his farm.

"We're blessed because we process 85 percent of our own milk," Smith said. "So we have some control over the price and everything."

Experts like Pike County Extension Agent Lamar Adams said one of the biggest challenges for Mississippi dairy farmers is the heat stress on their cattle.

"If a cows hot, she's not going to eat, if she doesn't eat then she's not going to milk well," Adams said. "Producers know they have to do everything they can to keep cattle cool and comfortable throughout the summer."

Adams said this impacts dairy farm numbers.

"Our numbers are decreasing," Adams said. "We've got about 85 dairies currently. Nationwide there's only about 43,500 dairies in the whole country."

Country Girl's Creamery will hold its Dairy Fest in October on its farm in Lumberton.