Dairy farm economics not adding up

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest It has happened to every farmer.The production numbers are plugged into the calculator, and double-checked, but they just do not seem to be adding up quite right on the short side of profitability.These days many dairy producers are drinking a couple of extra glasses of milk to calm their nerves and enjoying an additional scoop of ice cream to take their minds off of the unpleasant budget realities on the farm.Lou Brown of New Bremen has been crunching the numbers on his dairy farm and does not like the numbers he is seeing.“We’re at $13 milk right now on our 275-cow herd with a 70-pound average. That is 19,250 pounds of milk a day. That is 192.50 hundredweights at $13 that comes to $2,502.50 a day in the value of the milk. At $7 a day per cow with 275 cows, that comes to $1,925 a day for my feed bill. That leaves me with $577 to pay all of the other expenses. If I had one hired person full time I would need 40 more cows to justify that one person,” Brown said. “My price goal to average over five years is $20 a hundredweight. Two years ago it was $26, but feed costs were higher then. The milk price actually went down to $9 in 2009, which has been the low in the last eight years.”At $10 per hundredweight it is $57,750 a month in income. At $15 milk, it is $86,625 in monthly income and at $20 it is $115,500 a month in income.“That milk price makes a huge difference in gross revenue for us,” Brown said. “You’re constantly on a price roller coaster.”The farm (like many others) has implemented numerous long-term strategies to handle the inevitable economic tough times inherent in production agriculture. Brownhaven Farm is all family labor. The Brown family has been on the land since 1959 when Lou’s parents bought it. It is now run by Lou, his brother, and Lou’s son.“We started with two cows and by the 70s we were up to 80 cows,” he said. “Today we have grown to 280 cows  — all Holstein. Our wives and children help as well.”The vast majority of milk from Brownhaven Farm goes to nearby Dannon and is marketed through DFA.“I don’t really see a premium but I am only three or four miles away and it doesn’t make sense to truck it anywhere else,” Brown said.Dannon is a very valuable local market, but has been requiring increasingly stringent requirements in recent years based on various consumer and industry demands, each adding costs along the way. In addition, Brown’s 250-acre farm is in both the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed and in the Lake Erie watershed, the two most regulated watersheds in the state. This regulation also brings with it extra costs and challenges in the form of manure management and cover crops.“We raise half our hay and all of our corn silage,” Brown said. “All of our corn silage ground gets cover crop on it. I grow no soybeans, just corn and hay. The best ground stays in corn. I use an oats and radish mix which winter kills. My cost for just the oat seed is $1,500 on 150 acres.“I get government funding for cost share on the cover crops, but I have to match all of their guidelines to qualify. They have a cost share program. You could do it on your own but you will have $3,500 to $4,000 to put cover crops on 150 acres. And some cover crops are twice that cost. If I didn’t have cost share, it would be much harder to make the decision to do that. Maybe I would only do half the farm verses the whole farm. What is the value of the organic matter I’m getting, the erosion I am stopping and the runoff I am preventing? It does definitely help the corn yield too. Cover crops may be worth $4,000 a year, very easily, but they are also an extra cost.”The liquid manure lagoon storage for the farm is adequate to hold enough to apply in the spring before planting.“The majority of the time we apply lagoon manure before we plant corn. We either use a Miller disk or field cultivator before and after manure application. We knife it in and go over it again and then plant corn,” Brown said. “They want us to work the ground before we apply the lagoon manure to disturb the soil so it doesn’t have a direct route to the tile. The only other fertility I add is liquid 28% — 10 gallons at planting and 40 gallons an acre sidedress.”The Browns get the rest of their cattle feed needs met through neighboring farms to help control costs.“All of the corn for grain is bought from neighbors and we grind it here on the farm. We have our own bean extruder as well. All the wheat straw for bedding is grown by neighbors too — for the last 10 years we have been buying from neighbors. It makes more sense to buy from the neighbors then to go and pay $10,000 or $12,000 an acre for more ground,” Brown said. “We use our own equipment and labor to harvest the neighbor’s crops. We harvest earlage, silage and grain for grinding. We do everything on the hay. Usually first cutting is chopped for haylage and the rest is in big squares. We try for five cuttings.“This last weekend we chopped 92 acres of rye which gave us 600 tons of extra feed valued at $15,000. We had a neighbor who decided to put it out as cover and he let us chop it. It gave him an extra cash crop and we provided all the labor.”These and other practices help keep costs down when milk prices drop. Major purchases are made carefully during good times.“We don’t change a lot when milk prices are low, but we keep close tabs on expenses. We try to put off buying more expensive $5,000 to $10,000 investments or higher. We fix more things instead of investing in new,” Brown said. “You have to set your priorities every day and look at your goals. You might make mistakes, but you hope that doesn’t happen. For a dairy farm, a mistake could be as simple as what if milk from a treated cow went into the bulk tank that day. That is a costly mistake. You have to be careful to avoid those when times are tight.“If you need to expand or improve, do it in small amounts. Don’t try to do it all in one year. Hopefully the smart managers saved back $2 a hundredweight when it was over $20 for now when things are low.”And, at least for the immediate future, milk prices look to stay low.“Historically it is a seven to eight year cycle but it is anybody’s guess with the global market the way it is today. Changes in China or Russia impact our farm,” Brown said. “Mother Nature will either have to throw in a drought or we’ll have to wait for the school year to start so the volume of fluid milk will go up again.”A big production bump in Europe has helped build up a large global milk supply, according to John Newton, the Senior Director of Economic Research for the National Milk Producers Federation.“It will take time for us to work through the global inventory and one way to do that is through lower prices to the consumer. In the European Union they just removed the quota system and we’ve seen milk production in Europe increase significantly in the last year into the global market place. In the U.S., we export 12% to 15% of our milk production every year and we are exposed to what is happening internationally,” Newton said. “Farm prices are set based on wholesale commodity prices. When wholesale prices of cheese, or butter, or milk powders decrease, so too does the farm gate milk price. In this case, we have seen powder prices decline quite a bit, close to a dollar a pound. We have seen a dramatic decline in milk price from the highs in 2014.”As milk producers feel the pinch of low prices, milk processors enjoy strong profits.“Processors make money on the down side because their input costs are declining, but when input prices increase, they cannot turn around and raise their retail prices dramatically. There is an ebb and flow. End users need consistency. Pizza chains don’t change the price of their pizza on the menu every week as cheese prices change. They try to have a fixed price menu item,” Newton said. “Farm gate prices come down and soon after the retail price will follow. There is some price transmission, but currently the farmer’s share of the retail dollar is lower than it was in recent years. We would expect to see that with lower input costs, it will drive processors to have lower prices at the consumer level. When prices decline, retailers can offer more promotional specials. You could see two for one cheeseburgers, for example, and you would sell twice as much cheese when the prices for cheese are low. Those things in turn will help the farmer’s price.”last_img read more

Nice Guys of OK Cupid Latest Fodder for Online Shaming

first_imgfruzsina eordogh A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Tags:#social media The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Related Posts center_img Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… The latest target for our collective online ridicule:  lonely, sometimes pudgy, men who can’t get dates due to their misogynistic tendencies.Men who have labeled themselves (not ironically) as “nice guys” on an online dating site have unscrupulously been gathered together in a new Tumblr called the “Nice Guys of OK Cupid.” These unsuspecting rejects from the online dating site have become the modern day face of sexism and rape-culture, or at the very least, homophobes and men who hate being “friend-zoned,”  – basically, men who are not so nice after all.  Besides wondering why they can’t get dates after writing most girls they know are “shallow bitches” or “whores” who always fall for “jerks,” “douches” and “assholes” instead of them, quite a few of the men answered the OK Cupid question about sexual obligations with “No is really a yes in disguise.”And their sexism is an Internet hit! Well, more like the Tumblr itself, which besides getting thousands of notes on each post has now been covered by everyone from New York Magazine, Huffington Post, Gawker’s Jezebel, and even the New Statesman. As Laurie Penny postulated on New Statesman, these men’s “worst nightmares have come true: all over the world, ladies who don’t even know him are laughing at him.”Nicely Shaming Nice GuysAs far as public shaming goes – a trend that has become quite fashionable these days – Nice Guys of OK Cupid is pretty tame: the real names of the men are not listed, nor are their addresses. (So no one is harassing them on their Twitter or Facebook or prank calling them – yet.)Unlike other instances of public shaming, the aim of this project is not clear either;  people upset by Lindsey Stone’s middle-finger photo wanted her fired (and set on fire), Gawker wanted school officials to know about teens racist online postings, and Hello There, Racists! wanted racists to be humiliated –  but what does Nice Guys of OK Cupid want?To humiliate these men, or warn women browsing OK Cupid to stay away from them? While the former seems more likely, humiliating these men will not help them change their behavior, or even help them understand why their behavior needs to be changed in the first place.“There has to be an answer to these guys that isn’t just pointing and laughing… Are we ever going to be able to have a conversation about consent, about respect, about fucking, and maybe even about love, that doesn’t descend into bullying and invective?,” Penny wrote. Probably not.The Old Internet StoryThe Internet has been harassing people for various reasons since its first public inception, and making the leap that Internet has enabled bullying through pseudonyms is not a far-fetched claim.  Cyberbullying, or public shaming, can sometimes be referred to as Internet vigilantism, which gained considerable momentum on 4chan’s /b/, the same message board that spawning the online activist collective Anonymous. This form of online ridicule has moved beyond the confines of 4chan’s /b/ – sometimes referred to as “the asshole of the Internet” – and is now mainstream with writers like Buzzfeed’s Matt Buchanan who argue public shaming is okay so we can exact “moral rectitude” – whatever that means –  on sexists and racists. We are all qualified to be judge, jury and executioner, apparently. If the Internet is indeed getting nicer as Nathan Heller theorized last month in New York Magazine, why is public shaming now so mainstream? In a prior interview, the online troll and writer Jon Hendren speculated the rising trend of outlets shaming online deviants has legitimized the practice for readers and casual Internet users. Think: If the media is going after sexists, racists, and sexual deviants, we can too.The coverage Nice Guys of OK Cupid received – a Tumblr which we can all agree makes fun of low-hanging Internet fruit without offering much context – would certainly make its author feel validated.  But how many cycles of shame will it take before we all get the clue about glass houses?last_img read more