Campbell Co. Dairy Farmers Face Difficult Time

Campbell Co., VA - Central Virginia dairy farmers are as uneasy as anybody about the fiscal cliff. If our country goes over that cliff, there's worry milk prices would spike.

Dairy farming is already a tough business and a shrinking one too.

For 50 years, Yoders' Farm made milk, until recently when they cut the cord on milk production.

"Finances were the big reasons. Input costs just kept climbing up and up - feed, fertilizer and fuel - those three," said Delvin Yoder.

The ingredients going in to the cow got more pricey than the milk coming out. Instead of milking cows, the Yoders turned to raising heffers and growing produce.

"We decided to move with the produce and retail a lot of that produce direct to consumers where we have where we have better control on pricing," said Yoder.

Milk pricing is one part of the problem. Because milk perishes so quickly, farmers must get it to market fast. For the Yoders, that meant selling to a co-op. The co-op, not the Yoders, controlled the milk price.

A lame-duck Congress surely isn't helping dairy farmers either. The Farm Bill stalled in the House, leaving Senator Mark Warner scratching his head as to why.

"This is one that saves money, it is something that has been bipartisan, and once again gives farmers some certainty," said Warner.

Dairy farming is hard work. Between inconsistent milk prices and no new farm bill in sight, former dairy farmers like Yoder are happy they dropped out of the milk business.

"Do you miss any part of the dairy process?" we asked.

"Really, I don't," said Yoder.

The fiscal cliff, the farm bill and the price of milk all create unease for farmers. But the bigger concern is this dry weather and the problem it creates. For example, growing feed for their livestock.