Hanging up the Milkers in a Time When Milk Demands Are Growing

When I was kid I used to stand down in the milking parlor and watch my mom wash the cows and my dad slip on the milkers. There would be six cows on either side of us, with us looking up underneath them while they stood and had chop for the time they got milked. (In farm girl terms- we call it a double six parlor).  If you put the clear hoses close to your ear you could hear the milk chugging through the hose and up into the glass tubes above. My mother once described the sound to me as “bunnies chewing on carrots”.

However, according to an article I recently read in Hoard’s Dairyman last week, many of those milk chugging hoses could get washed out, dried out, and forgotten.

milkers

Most of us know that Dairy farming is one of the toughest and longest lasting industries in America. We hear about people in certain careers being “underpaid” for what they do. Trust me, I know a lot of teachers that are nodding their heads right now. Yet, a Dairy farmer isn’t like a teacher. Their isn’t any negotiation on what they sell their milk for to the large milk companies.

Hoard Dairymen’s article, Do We Have Room To Grow, is a perfect example of where our milk industry is going. It’s growing, yes. But it’s growing for the Yogurt plants, the dairy product producers. It’s predicted by the end of the year that many farms in Pennsylvania and New York won’t be able to stay in business. It’s not because the demand isn’t there for their cows to produce milk. It’s the price.

We complain about the price of milk in the store or a tub of yogurt. How do you think the dairy farmer feels? All prices on milk is regulated by the federal government. And unless the price paid to the farm rises with our economy, small family farms will hang up their milkers and be forced to find other ways to support their families.

Dairy Farmers are people just like you. They’ve got families to raise and probably more responsibility than any of us. They’ve got a herd of dairy cattle depending on them for care. Dairy cows aren’t pampered. They’re kept dry, fed, and bred. Can you imagine, ladies, being pregnant consistently, then hooked up to a machine twice a day to meet the demand for millions of pounds of milk?

It’s a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of heart, and if the federal government doesn’t adjust something for the farmer soon, the only ones that will be left in business are large factory farms that will monopolize the industry.  Soon, we’ll see the rusting and aged milkers hanging in parlors. They will no longer hold value.

Milk and dairy products are a constantly sale in the grocery store and even Pepsi is realizing with the new upswing trend in Greek yogurt that demand is increasing, not going away. So if some big company like Pepsi can jump on the bandwagon of growth for expanding the demand in the dairy industry, why is it, do you think, that the federal government is holding back our farmers from making it a go?

This farm girl happens to like Greek yogurt, the mango is my favorite. What’s yours?

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Daughter of a dairy farmer, this crafty mom has a heart for all things handmade. When she's not writing or crafting, you can find her creating memories with her family.

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