June is National Dairy Month and we thought it would be appropriate to talk with a local farmer about the challenges involved in running a family dairy. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.
"If one thing slacks down, there’s something else that needs to be done. There’s never an idle moment around here."
David Liere and his family run a dairy in Robertson County, and they try to be as self sufficient as possible. Depending on the temperature, his cows require between 45 and 55 pounds of dry matter per day.
"Basically what we try to do is grow most of our forage, but last year we got into a tight, we had to buy a little hay this past year to make ends meet. We’re not out of the woods yet on that drought situation."
Liere says the manure the cows produce is used to fertilize the crops.
"Cow manure is pretty high in phosphorus and potassium, but it’s not that high in nitrogen, so you have to add some more nitrogen to it, to get it balanced out, and that’s what you want to do, you want to try and get the soil balanced out."
With the economy weakening globally, low milk prices went even lower to try and encourage exports and shrink supplies.
"Let’s say our floor price is at five dollars. We’ll they couldn’t go below that five dollars to gid rid of, export that milk, so the secretary of agriculture, what I got was that he let that floor price slip down, maybe like four seventy five, that’s another twenty five cents, we can get rid of a lot of surplus milk."
But when the economy comes back, the import markets should also.
"They had a little bit of taste of a good dairy product so they want some more."
As with all agri-businesses, increasing regulations are a concern, particularly as the discussion continues to heat up on water rights.
"Well it’s a little concern for us. If we decide to grow, we would like to, like to have this option of putting the size of well we need down."
And to work in production agriculture, optimism is not only recommended, but required.
"The milk outlook doesn’t look very good for the next few months, but it should turn around then, I hope, it better."(Laughs).
I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley Agriculture, From The Ground Up.