Changes in Utah Dairies between June 2002 and June 2003

Dr. Allen Young
USU Extension Dairy Specialist

As you are all aware, the past 18+ months have been a very difficult period because of low milk prices and higher feed costs. I have heard many stories of dairy farmers going out of business, and wondered what is the state of the Utah dairy industry? Table 1 contains information compiled from the Federal Milk Marketing Order comparing the number of producers in Utah, by county, and the average amount of milk shipped/day per producer for June 2002 and June 2003. The differences reflect 2003 minus 2002.

The most obvious number is the change in production for Iron, Washington and Clark, NV counties. I know you are asking why Clark county Nevada is in with Utah? Historically, it has been included with Utah, plus disclosure rules for USDA don�t allow areas with less than 3 dairies to be included in their own grouping. This also complicates things because Clark County is in the Arizona Federal Milk Marketing Order. The increase is substantial and probably reflects changes in the dairies around Las Vegas. As an aside, Meadow Gold Dairy is building a new processing plant in the Las Vegas area and these numbers are probably a reflection of why they are building it there. What the effect will be on Utah prices remains to be seen.

Cache county had the greatest net loss in the number of producers with a net loss of 8 (7%). But Cache county also has the largest number of dairy farmers. No areas except Duchesne and Millard & Juab had what I would consider a major reduction in the number of producers. Duchesne merited attention because it lost 4 dairies out of 26 (15.4%) and Millard & Juab lost 3 out of 22 (13.6%). There are several counties that I have been watching because of the recent urban sprawl going on there. I was very surprised to see that the numbers of dairies in those counties have not changed in the past year.

In terms of the greatest increases in milk marketed/producer per day (excluding the Iron, Washington, NV counties), Weber led the way, followed in order by Beaver, Salt Lake and Davis, and Sevier county. The greatest decreases in milk marketed/producer per day were in Sanpete, Millard & Juab, and Summit counties. The net change in milk/ producer between 2002 and 2003 was only 386 pounds per day. This is essentially equivalent to no change.

Greater milk shipped/producer per day is usually reflective of herd size. The breed of cow in the herd can also affect the amount shipped per day. Making the assumption that size is the major factor, the counties that appear to have the largest herd sizes are: Iron, Washington and Clark, NV, Millard & Juab, Sevier, Weber, Sanpete, Salt Lake & Davis, and Wayne & Emery.

There is also another way to look at the numbers. If all things are equal, it is possible to assume that if the numbers of producers for a county goes down and the milk/producer per day goes up, then the dairies that went out of operation were small dairies. If the milk/producer per day goes down, then the dairies that left were probably large dairies.

On the surface it appears that Utah has been holding its own during these hard times. However, in talking with many of you I know that these numbers don�t tell the whole story. We sympathize with your plight and hope that conditions are better in the future. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at 435-797-3763 or alleny@ext.usu.edu.

TABLE 1. June 2002 June 2003 Difference (2003-2002)
No. Prod. Milk/producer/day No. Prod. Milk/producer/day No. Prod. Milk/producer/day
Beaver 18 8,464 16 11,441 -2 2,978
Box Elder & Tooele 40 15,122 40 14,065 0 -1,056
Cache 112 7,669 104 8,362 -8 693
Duchesne 26 8,535 22 8,973 -4 438
Iron, Washington (& Clark, NV) 4 16,648 4 36,191 0 19,542
Millard & Juab 22 37,124 19 35,197 -3 -1,926
Morgan 6 6,646 6 6,183 0 -463
Piute 7 11,356 6 12,583 -1 1,228
Salt Lake & Davis 5 14,267 4 17,039 -1 2,771
Sanpete 17 20,876 15 17,485 -2 -3,391
Sevier 10 16,131 8 18,866 -2 2,736
Summit 10 5,033 10 3,515 0 -1,518
Uintah 4 5,955 4 4,759 0 1,196
Utah 25 8,349 24 8,016 -1 -333
Wasatch 6 5,850 6 4,794 0 -1,056
Wayne & Emery 4 17,948 4 16,701 0 -1,247
Weber 28 15,363 26 18,755 -2 3,392
Total 344 12,349 318 12,736 -26 386
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