Dairy farmers see rise in production costs - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Dairy farmers see rise in production costs

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BANGOR, Wisconsin (WXOW) - It's milking time at AR-Line Dairy in Bangor, a routine farmer Randy Holthaus and his team of workers run though every day, three times a day.

More than 300 cows will make their way through the milking line at 5 a.m., 1 p.m. and again at 8:30 p.m.

"Sometimes we have cows milk over 100 pounds of milk a day or more a day," said Holthaus, owner of AR-Line Dairy.

Holthaus is paid by the hundredweight. His supply is collected each day and distributed to processors.

Currently he said he's making between $19-20 per 100 pounds of milk. But his net income is not looking as good.

"With the shortage of feed right now we're really not doing well, you know, because people having to buy feed," Holthaus said. "We're just putting our milk check into our feed bill."

"Why we maybe have a little more demand and less supply has been the drought that's been persistent across the nation," said Steve Huntzicker, an agriculture agent with the La Crosse County UW Extension. "Cattle numbers are decreasing in certain states that maybe aren't just having the feed or the need to produce as much milk."

National production of milk has decreased, but Wisconsin has recently ramped up their dairy production by almost 5 percent, according to the November Dairy Situation and Outlook, authored by Bob Cropp, a professor emeritus with the UW Cooperative extension.

According to Cropp, dairy farmers out West are getting hit even harder than those in Wisconsin.

California's production has recently dropped almost six percent.

Wisconsin may see the price milk, cheese and other dairy products begin to rise in the coming months.

Farmers said that may corresponds with a hike in their production costs.

With the cost of feed staying high, cow numbers can start to decline and milk production can slow down. Something Holthaus hopes ends sooner than later.

"Wait ‘til next year, a new crop, I guess," Holthaus said. "Hopefully we get rain and things get better."

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