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  1. Jay says

    I WAN’ DA MOOCOWS! 🙁

    Admittedly, though…I can see some evil, Mirror Star Trek Universe type Carrie with the requisite beard (enjoy the mental image!) going “Sure. Pet the pretty cow. *That* one over there REALLY LIKES YOU!” *AIIIIEEEEE!!*

    More seriously, looks like some beautiful, well-cared for critters from good stock, though Dad’s not around to tell me what exactly I’m lookin’ at.

    Though, someone’s gonna have to have a talk with Cooler about showerin’.

    I had a couple off-topic thoughts today, figured I’d run them by you, and this seems like as good a place to ask:

    Grocery store brands vs. say, Daisy, Country Pride (?), etc…there’s not an insignificant price difference between the two. I get the economy-of-scale bit, and presumably standards are in place…e.g. you buy cottage cheese, it’ll have X amount of milkfat, but I have to wonder:

    Are farmers getting screwed? What about co-op members – are they locked in or do they also sell to places like Kroger?

    Also, any food for thought about recent farm-related bills or insight?

    I’ve seen food prices rocket up with no obvious reason, which puts me between a rock and a hard place with my monthly shopping, and prompts questions like I’ve outlined above.

    As always, awesome blog, and it’s weird being the first commenter – where’s the love for Carrie?! 🙂

    • capriox says

      Welp I’m not Carrie, but I am a dairy farmer so I can tell you that a lot of the financial setup depends on which coop or company you sell your milk to/are a member of! I’m part of Upstate Niagara which is a farmer-only-owned processing co-op. That means that only people who own the equity and are on our board are neighboring dairy farmers (although we do have an extensive, excellent staff that the coop hires) and that our coop does all our own processing – we own the milk, the milk plants, and the final product that goes to the store. The coop is the one that bids on/decides which stores to have our products in, and many plants produce both “name brand” and “store brand” product lines in the same facility from the same milk; the difference is often the cost of marketing the “name brand”. But, some coops are just marketing/selling coops – the coop members only own the milk pooled in a large enough quantity that an outside processing company will buy it. There’s pros & cons to both set-ups, but I will say that our coop has done well over the last decade and therefore most of the member-farms have gotten a good return-on-equity check each year in addition to market-or-slightly-better prices for our milk.

      With dairy farm economics, there’s a second major factor: costs, of which the largest volatile one is feed. So on dairy farms it isn’t enough to look at how milk income we get, but how much also we have to spend on feed (note that most NYS farmers grow 70-90% of their own feed, but there’s costs there too), so the margin between milk income – feed costs is a better indicator of dairy farm prosperity in a given region.

      Milk price, and other food prices, often have national and global factors behind their rise and fall these days because food is now shipped nationally and globally all the time. Most protein sources (dairy products, meat products) are going up quite a bit because there is strong global demand for protein as the relative wealth of developing nations increases (China is a huge factor here – they have a growing middle class that wants better nutrition AND they also often distrust their local food supplies for good reason, unfortunately). Drought is also another common factor – drought in much of the “cattle country” of the USA has driven beef prices sharply up, and drought in California that grows a ridiculously large percentage of USA fruits, veggies, & nuts are driving up those prices. Also, there is a new disease of pigs called PEDv that does NOT hurt humans, but it is very lethal to pigs! So that’s made pork products much more expensive (and is only going to get worse before it gets better) in the last 6 months. There’s other factors, too, but those are the big ones I can name off the top of my head.

      I am not a farm/food bill expert so I won’t comment on that, but I know that Farm Bureau has information on it and a lot of other national-level farm policy issues: http://www.fb.org/index.php?action=issues.farmbill

  2. Jay says

    Oh, heck – forgot to ask…what’s on Milktruck’s hind legs right above the hooves?

    • capriox says

      Looks like identification bands to me (little plastic removable bracelets). A lot of times when a cow is being milked it is easier to see her leg than her head where the tags are, so we use the different colored “bracelets” as “hey pay attention this cow is special because of X” reminders. X could be that the cow only produces milk in 3 of the 4 teats, or that she’s in a special herd group, or that she was sick with something…. each farm has their own codes so Carrie would have to explain what those two colors mean on MilkTruck.

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