Over 10,000 U.S. Dairy Cows to be Retired

In mid-May, Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) tentatively accepted 388 bids representing 102,898 cows and two billion pounds of milk production capacity in the first of a series of herd retirements planned over the next 12 months. The number of cows and pounds of milk represent the largest single herd retirement carried out in the six-year history of CWT.

Dairy farmers in 41 states submitted a total of 538 herd retirement bids. The number of cows scheduled to be removed account for 64 percent of the total number of cows offered and the two billion pounds of milk account for 67 percent of the milk production offered.

“The high percentage of bids CWT selected this time around is an indication that producers understood that CWT would only be able to accept reasonable bids per hundred pounds of milk in order to adjust the nation’s dairy herd and better align supply and demand,” said Jerry Kozak, president and chief executive officer of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), which administers CWT.

CWT field auditors will visit the 388 farms whose bids were accepted, checking their milk production records, inspecting their herds, and tagging each cow for processing. All farms should be audited by early July and cows should begin moving off dairies by late May. CWT will provide each farmer the NMPF guidelines for the proper culling and transporting of dairy cattle.

“The bids selected ranged from farms with fewer than 50 cows to dairies with over 5,000, demonstrating that farms of all sizes in all areas are facing a very difficult year in 2009,” Kozak said. “Those that took advantage of CWT’s offer to retire their herds will aid others still wanting to farm by reducing the amount of milk coming to market and strengthening prices going forward.”

Through the commitment of 36 cooperative members and over 500 individual dairy farmer members, CWT will have the resources to carry out additional herd retirements in the coming months. Kozak noted that the group will continue to monitor key economic indicators to determine the right time to implement the next herd retirement.

CWT is funded by dairy cooperatives and individual dairy farmers who contribute 10 cents per hundredweight assessment on their milk production through December 2010. The money raised by CWT’s investment is being apportioned between two supply management programs that strengthen and stabilize the national milk price.

June 2009 RENDER | back