Stacey McCallister can drive his southwest Missouri road and see dairy farms disappearing. According to this Mountain Grove dairy producer, the industry in this area of the state is "on the verge of collapse."
"Our cattle are not worth anything, our input cost is so outrageous compared to the price the USDA is setting for milk prices," he says. "And the infrastructure is crumbling."
Just last week, he lost two over-the-road transport companies hauling milk from the area. McCallister anticipates higher milk hauling prices. "If we have a hauler who says they isn't enough milk to haul out of the area and they are not making enough money and they say they need 50 cents more per hundredweight, we have nowhere else to go. We just have to pay the cost."
McCallister has been milking cattle in the area for more almost a quarter of a century. And he has never seen it as bad as this past year. "We have been losing farms for the past five years," he says, "but nothing like the amount we lost last year."
According to Gene Wiseman, in April Missouri had 922 permitted Grade A dairy farms. At the same time last year, that number was 1,057, that is a loss of 135 dairy farms in one year. Some exited because of drought conditions and economics.