Between the new technology, information sessions and networking, the more than 500 in attendance for the Georgia Dairy Conference got a one stop shop for updates on the industry. It’s an industry that received some much-needed relief in 2022 thanks to a number of factors.
“We go back a couple of years ago, prices, milk prices were low. We saw milk production decline, more dairy farmers go out of the business, got rid of cows. So, supply went down. Then as people started recovering from pandemic, milk demand went up. So, we had some dairy demand exceeding dairy supply,” says Industry Consultant, Calvin Covington.
That was good news for Georgia dairymen after years of struggling to turn a profit, and while a drop in price is expected, there is still plenty of room for optimism heading into the new year.
“2022 was a record year for milk prices, not only here in Georgia, but throughout the United States. Milk prices will be lower next year or here this year in 2023. And my projections are prices will be down about ten to fifteen percent. Even though prices are going to be lower next year, we still need to keep it in perspective. That could still be the third highest milk price in history,” says Covington.
While those high prices are a welcome sight for milk producers, they are also the main reason there’s likely to be some recession in 2023.
“Milk prices were high, it brought on more milk,” says Covington. “Dairy farmers reacted and produced more. Now we have more production. But these high prices raised consumer prices in the store. Prices of milk, cheese, butter went up. The demand has softened. Demand has also softened in the export market. So, now we’ve got more milk, lower demand, bringing prices down.”
Combine that with the ever-rising cost of production and dairymen are once again looking to do more with less, which is why getting the most up to date information at events like this are vital to the success of their operation.
“The cost to produce a hundred weight of milk keeps increasing,” says Covington. “All costs keep going up. And that’s a large part of this conference here. A lot of expert speakers giving information to dairy farmers how they can better manage or control their costs because margins are shrinking. So, it’s going to be less money to operate on this year.”
However, if recent history is any indicator, milk producers here in Georgia are capable of weathering any storm.
“Georgia showed the highest increase in total milk production of any state last year, so dairy farmers here do a good job in Georgia. They’re able to manage not only in the better times but also in the not so good times. So, they, they will survive,” says Covington.
By: Damon Jones