Johnny Morgan, Bardwell, Ronald D., McCormick, Michael E. | 6/17/2009 8:09:31 PM
Finding solutions to the low prices producers receive for their milk will a topic of discussion at this year’s St. Helena/Tangipahoa Dairy Day June 11 at Henry Capdeboscq Jr.’s dairy farm near Husser.
Producers like Capdeboscq are being paid at or below what dairy farmers received in 1980, said Dr. Ronnie Bardwell, LSU AgCenter area dairy agent.
“It’s bad enough to have prices at about $13 per hundredweight for the producer, but what makes it worse is that the input costs are so much higher now,” Bardwell said.
Capdeboscq said when he got into the business in 1981, diesel fuel was about 40 cents per gallon, feed was about $100 per ton and ammonium nitrate fertilizer was less than $200 per ton.
He said in 1981 a regular pickup cost about $6,500, but today it costs four times that much.
“Today, feed is over $260 per ton, fuel is over $2 per gallon and ammonium nitrate fertilizer is over $400 per ton,” he said.
Capdeboscq said he and other members of Louisiana Family Farms, LLC are looking into the possibility of bottling their own milk as a way to improve their income. He called it a “win-win” situation for the producers and the consumer.
Bardwell said processing would be a way for producers to increase their income as well as provide consumer with a locally produced product that is fresher.
Capdeboscq said his milk now leaves his farm and goes to Hattiesburg, Miss., for processing. And if it’s not needed there, the milk is shipped on to Mobile to be processed before it returns to Louisiana to be sold in local stores.
“Over 10,000 tankers of milk come into the state of Louisiana per year,” Bardwell said. “That means over 60 percent of our milk comes from out of state. If more is produced locally, that would mean more money staying here in the state.”
Bardwell said the quality of the milk that comes out of a cow in New Mexico that’s been on a concrete floor or a dry lot, is noticeably different from cows walking pastures every day.
He said if producers could make another dollar or two per hundredweight by being the owner of their own plant, that would make a big difference to area dairy farmers.
Capdeboscq said he’s able to remain in the dairy business after so many have gotten out mainly because his wife, Stanan, works off the farm, and he has a diversified operation.
Capdeboscq said he started in the dairy business with 65 cows, and now, in addition to the 250 cows he milks twice daily, he also raises beef cattle and grows a large amount of his own feed.
He said his 14-year-old son Carter wants to follow in his footsteps in the dairy business, but Capdeboscq wants him to get his college education first and then make that decision.
This year’s Dairy Day program will begin with registration at 8 a.m. and will include a 4-H dairy show, a vendors trade show and the announcement of the 4-H dairy poster winners.
Bardwell said speakers on the program will include Dr. Mike McCormick, resident coordinator at the LSU AgCenter’s Southeast Research Station, who will discuss forage considerations for 2009. Michelle Estay, director of dairy promotion with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, will give an update on dairy promotion programs.
The Dairy Day program will conclude with milk-quality awards, milk-production awards and lunch.
To reach the Capdeboscq farm, follow La. Highway 16 7 miles east from Amite, turn right on La. Highway 445 and go 2.5 miles to Tycer Road and turn left. The farm is at the end of that road.
For further information about the St. Helena/Tangipahoa Parish Dairy Day call Bardwell at 985-839-2322 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.