Holstein Farmers Discuss Costs

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- The price of gas around East Tennessee has been steady around $2.80 a gallon, but a gallon of milk is climbing to an average of $3.67.

Experts predict the price of milk could go above $4 a gallon by the end of the summer.

We caught up with some dairy farmers at the National Holstein Convention here in Knoxville to see how the price at the pump is affecting them.

"Increased fuel prices have really, really taken a toll on the dairy industry," said John Meyer, CEO of the National Holstein Association?

The reason is because dairy farmers say they're paying for gasoline on a much larger scale.

"All of us who drive a typical car or truck, whatever it is for transportation, multiply that by about 20 times and you'll see what kind of impact it would have on a dairy," Meyer said.

That impact translates to an increased cost of dairy products.

"If you look at the stock market and the dairy stocks and supplies, the traders feel that there's a deficit right now," said David Schuler, a dairy farmer.

You may be unhappy with the rising price of milk, but dairy farmers say the higher the better...

"Finally, the milk price has increased over several months here," Schuler said. "That has helped alleviate some of those expenses."

Don't forget what it costs to feed the cows.

"As the price of fuel has gone up, that has caused the price of grains to go up, along with the demand for corn for ethanol," Schuler said.

The Holstein Association's CEO agreed.

"Much of our corn crop now is going into ethanol production," Meyer said, "making the cost of corn used in dairy, feeding dairy cattle, much, much more expensive than it's ever been."

So the farmers are paying more to tend to the dairy cows but they're not getting any more in their wallets.

"For the most part, dairy producers in the last year have been making about what they did selling their milk at levels they had in 1977," Meyer said.

So for every penny more you have to fork out for your milk, farmers ask that you remember what it takes to get it to the shelf.

"Nobody works harder than America's dairy farmers and farmers of all kinds," Meyer said.

More than one thousand people from across the nation are attending this year's National Holstein Convention at the Knoxville Convention Center.

The Tennessee National Convention sale will take place there Monday night.

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