Southern Dairymen Gather in Savannah for Annual Conference

Savannah, GA |

In Savannah recently, dairy producers from around the state and southeast had the opportunity to gather under one roof to discuss the dairy industry. It was a time of fellowship and education as producers heard from experts about the many issues facing their industry.

“A lot of information can be gathered off the Internet, but true friendships and alliances are established eye to eye, handshake opportunities. It allows us to attract dairy farmers from all over the Southeast. Vendors, scientists, and university staff provide a forum and a platform for mutual discussion of the day-to-day issues facing the dairy industry,” said Paul Johnson, Program Coordinator of the GA Dairy Conference.

One of the important issues discussed was the current economic pressures producers have dealt with in the last couple of years; pressures that have put a lot of strain on their operations and have even caused some to go out of business.

“These last few years, with inflation, raising interest rates, put a lot of pressure on a lot of people. And the costs and the cash flow required to run a business like a dairy has increased significantly. So right now, dairy producers have really had a lot of pressure. Some people are weathering the storm better than others, but I think it’s a stress for all of them,” said Kevin Dhuyvetter, Industry Consultant.

Dhuyvetter says that because of those economic pressures, producers have had to make tough decisions that unfortunately have hurt many of them in the end.

“When times are tight, and this last year for sure has with inflation. A lot of us want to tighten our belt, and when we tighten our belt, that means I’m going to try to spend less money. I have to try to spend less money because everything is costing me more. And what happens then is we start sacrificing production. I’m trying to save myself to prosperity. That’s very, very difficult to do because we have data that says those people that tend to spend more money and make sure they keep cows healthy and comfortable, make more milk, tend to be more profitable. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to save money, and that saving money ends up hurting us,” explained Dhuyvetter.

Thankfully, inflation has declined since its peak in 2022; however, Dhuyvetter says that the problems producers continue to face are not going anywhere anytime soon.

“The issues we face the last couple of years, they’re not going to go away overnight. The fact that they’re better today than they were a year ago, that’s a good sign, but they’re still tough, right? I mean, the fact that inflation’s lower than it was is great, but it’s lower from a very high number. So, my expectations are these are going to be pressures that will keep putting stress and pressures on our dairy producers for the next several years. So, the challenges in 2023 are not going to disappear any time soon, unfortunately,” concluded Dhuyvetter.

By: John Holcomb