Dairy Farmers Nervous About Market Uncertainty

Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-23 18:46:44-04

Some dairy farmers in the state have been worried about the future of the business as there's an overabundance of milk on the market.

According to Tom Womack with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, a group of producers in Eastern Tennessee were told their distributor would no longer buy their milk.

Milk prices are low right now because of the surplus. Some farmers are considering getting out of the business.

However, the owners of Turner Dairy in Lebanon, brothers Jeffrey and Justin Turner, said they have no such plan. Their business is just over two years old, though the brothers said they’ve been working on dairy farms since they were young.

"Americans are not consuming as much fluid milk as they once were," said Jeffrey. "Fluid consumption drives our milk price at the farm gate."

They plan to stick through the hard times and hope things will eventually return to normal.

"We knew when we got into this business that it wasn't always going to be easy. Right now, we're getting some firsthand experience with that," said Justin, who admits the market uncertainty is hard to ignore. "What's it going to be like three months from now, six months from now? What's it going to be like two years from now? Is there going to be room for us to operate?"

Another issue that's contributing is the number of options in the milk aisle. Womack said consumers have a lot of options that take away from milk sales.

"There's a much more fragmented market for the consumer," Womack said. "You've got products out there that are labeled milk that are not really milk."