Evaporating: Lower milk prices threaten a Missouri family's legacy

1 year 8 months 3 weeks ago Sunday, October 21 2018 Oct 21, 2018 Sunday, October 21, 2018 8:45:00 AM CDT October 21, 2018 in News
By: Monica Harkins, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

PECULIAR - Fourth generation dairy farmer Jay Fogle is one of many Missouri milk cow operators who are struggling to stay afloat.

"It just seems it's harder and harder to make a living doing this," Fogle said. "I love it, it's all I've ever did."

He owns Fogle Farm in Peculiar, Missouri, where he lives with his wife, sons and his parents.

Milk prices were falling in 2009, so the family had to think of ways to diversify, Jay Fogle said.

He said milking cows is all he'd prefer to do, but his "current milk prices are well under what they consider break even." 

Fogle Farm started a certified bakery to sell fresh baked goods at a local farmer's market. The operation began growing hay to reduce feed costs. The family also has a beef herd, to add to their income, all to try and make ends meet.

"Even the very large dairies, it's not that they're making money right now either, it's not profitable for anybody," Jay Fogle said.

The money in milk

While Missouri is not one of the top ten milking states in the county, it still provides economic value. In 2016, the dairy industry provided 1,985 jobs and generated $228.5 million in milk cash receipts, according to a University of Missouri Extension Dairy Snapshot, which quotes the USDA.

The figures are relatively low compared to those facing previous generations of farmers. 

"When I got out of high school, being a dairy farmer was a pretty good deal," Jay Fogle said.

According to the USDA, 2,520 million pounds of milk were produced in 2016. nearly four times that amount of milk, 8,757 million pounds was produced in 1976.

No more Got Milk? Instead, where'd the milk go?

Jay Fogle's mother, Janis Fogle, still helps with day-to-day operations, including milking.

She said she remembers a time when there were 20 to 30 "dairies" in Cass county.

"They had a Dairy queen, or princess. It was a whole festival weekend where the dairy farmers, you know, it was recognized the significance that dairy farmers had," she said.

Now, Missouri is milk deficit, meaning the state does not produce the amount of milk necessary to meet its own needs.

To calculate the deficit, multiply Missouri's estimated population, which was 6.1 million people last year, by per capita milk consumption of 643 pounds of dairy. That would mean Missouri would need to produce 3.9 million pounds of dairy for for its population that year.. According to the USDA, Missouri only produced less than a third of that.

But milk farmers like Jay Fogle, don't have a say where their milk goes. Fogle Farm is part of a milk co-op that distributes the milk. Fogle Farm's product goes to a processing plant in Arkansas, even though there's another plant 30 minutes from the family's operation.

Jay Fogle's idea to change that would be to start a Missouri association milk brand.

"It really wouldn't cost Missourians any more money," he said. "But the Missouri dairy farmer could get more of that drinking milk price, fluid milk price."

The United States collectively isn't drinking as much milk, according to the USDA.

People across the nation consumed 247 pounds per person of fluid milk in 1975. Last year, the amount consumed was about half of that.

"The dairy farmers, I mean where would you be without the dairy products," Janis Fogle said. "It has its own food group!"

Even the number of cows has drastically gone down.

The USDA reports 85,000 milk cows in Missouri last year, down from 158,000 in 2000. And both of the those numbers are shockingly low compared to 1970 when there was 342,000 milk cows.

A farmer's hope

While in a rocky financial state, the Fogles rely on their love of the business to push them forward.

"So yeah, I mean, if you aren't hopeful, there's no reason to keep doing it," Jay Fogle said. "Me and my hope might be not well-founded, but I guess I have it."

Janis Fogle teared up thinking about the possibility of having her grandsons continuing the family business.

"They're the fifth generation. We would love to be able to see the farm as a whole keep on keeping on," she said. "But how do you do it?"

(Editor's note: This story is a Missouri School of Journalism collaboration. For more on this topic read The Missourian's "Evaporating: Missouri’s dairy industry at a crossroads" and "Evaporating: Where does your milk come from?".)

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Truman VA staff cheered on a veteran while he was wheeled out of the hospital on Monday. He... More >>
2 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 8:19:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA—About 20 people filed complaints about other individuals or businesses not following the mask ordinance this weekend, according to the... More >>
3 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 7:19:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services have cooling centers open to the general public as an impending... More >>
3 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 6:55:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The Camden County Sheriff's Office received nearly a $400 million in grant funding through the Department's Office of... More >>
4 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 6:36:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA (AP) — COVID-19 tests recommended by doctors now must be free to Missouri patients under a new law. ... More >>
4 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 5:41:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
WENTZVILLE (AP) — General Motors will temporarily lay off a shift of workers at its assembly plant in Wentzville amid... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 5:36:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City does not plan to place a mask ordinance anytime soon, according to local officials. ... More >>
6 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 4:35:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia, University of Missouri Health Care and Boone Hospital Center released a joint statement on... More >>
6 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 4:17:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
JEFF CITY - The Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released a... More >>
6 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 3:45:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
ROLLA (KBIA) — National forests, including Mark Twain in the Missouri Ozarks, saw big crowds over the Fourth of July... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 3:25:16 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA (AP) — Missouri prisoners are raising concerns because guards are not required to wear face masks. Prisoners told... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 3:17:20 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
MISSOURI — As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Missouri, state and local officials confirm new case counts daily. ... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 3:00:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA (Missourian) - Medical marijuana could be available in dispensaries this fall, now that two cultivation facilities passed inspection... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 2:33:13 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - A sentence hearing for the man who pleaded guilty in a February 2019 arson at a Planned Parenthood... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 2:23:17 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Staying cool in the summer is a must, but this year it involves wearing masks. Wearing a... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 2:20:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The B&B Bagel Company's south location sustained damage to its building and awning on Monday morning. B&B... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 1:45:55 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Parson signed a child protection bill into law on Monday. The bill includes protecting homeless youth... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 1:34:00 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The state of Missouri is investigating a St. Louis company that it says approved 600... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 1:15:36 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 77°
11pm 78°
12am 76°
1am 75°
2am 74°