Another 87,000 Cows to be Retired

After removing a record 101,000 cows from the milking herd this past July, Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) is in the process of taking another 87,000 cows out of production. Nearly 300 farms have been accepted in the second-largest herd retirement since the farmer-funded self-help program began in 2003.

Seventy-three percent of the current farms selected are located east of the Mississippi River, while 70 percent of the 87,000 cows to be retired come from the Western and Southwest regions of the United States. Seventy-two percent of the 1.8 billion pounds of milk removed will come from those two regions.

“The increase in the percentage of farms selected east of the Mississippi in this herd retirement compared to the one just completed is an indication that the financial distress farmers are feeling is not unique to one or two regions of the country, but being felt nationwide,” said Jim Tillison, chief operating officer at CWT.

Both the average herd size (296 cows) and the average production per cow (20,884 pounds) are the highest of any of the eight herd retirements CWT has carried out, indicating that “these are not just small farms with low-end cows that would have soon been gone anyway,” Tillison said. “These are, in many cases, larger herds with significant potential future milk production that CWT is removing in order to help bring supply back into line with demand.”

CWT is also removing approximately 3,200 bred heifers, nearly three times the next highest number since the option was added to the herd retirement program a year ago.

Combined with CWT’s previous two herd retirements, a total production capacity of 4.8 billion pounds of milk has been removed from the U.S. supply since December 2008.

CWT staff will continue to monitor key economic indicators in order to determine if and when to implement another herd retirement.

October 2009 RENDER | back