Thursday, July 19, 2012

Drought to drive up cost of dairy

Elizabeth Wiese in USA Today: The heat and drought ravaging much of the nation will soon hit America at the supermarket counter: Cheese and milk prices will rise first and corn and meat are probably not far behind.

Price hikes in basic food staples are causing huge concern to milk producers and others who rely on dairy to sustain an important part of the national farming economy. The rises foreshadow price hikes in coming months for other food staples, such as meat, says Bruce Jones, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

There will still be milk to buy, says Roger Hoskin, an agricultural economist with the Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service. "I can't imagine situations where you'd have people standing in line to get milk at the dairy counter. But they might not want it at the price it's selling at."

...Temperatures in the 90s and above mean cows give less milk, and sky-high feed prices are making it more expensive to feed them. Add to that the cost dairies must pay for fans and sprinkler systems to keep the animals cool during long hot days and nights.

This year, every state east of the Rockies is enduring its hottest or second-hottest year on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Overall, 28 states are seeing their hottest year since accurate records began in 1895....

A stockyard in Oakley, Kansas, in 2006, shot by Nyttend, public domain

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