Earlier today in a conversation, someone told me that what is happening to the rate of decline in number of dairies in the U.S. is shocking. Yes, many dairy farm families are struggling and have left the business. But is the rate of decline in number of dairies in production really "shocking"? The decade rate of decline in dairy operations for the past decade (from 2000 through the most recent data available which is 2009) is 38 percent. However, this decade rate of decline is actually slower than that of the previous decade in the 1990s (42 percent) and also slower than the 1980s (39 percent).Here's my math for your own fact-checking:
I also checked to see if maybe the decade rate of decline in licensed herds was "shocking."
Only one decade of data exists on number of licensed dairy herds. The decade rate of decline in licensed dairy herds is less than that of decline for all dairy operations at 33 percent.
Last year's 3.8 percent of annual decline was on par with the average for number of dairies exiting the business in the last five years, which was also 3.8 percent. PD
- Email Walt Cooley