POSTED: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - 5:21pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 3:00pm
MESQUITE, NM - At Joe Gonzalez's dairy farm, it has been tough for the past few years. Like a lot of dairy farmers, it has been difficult to make money since the price of milk fell, and he has not shown a profit since 2009. But the ongoing drought has made it even tougher. Gonzalez says the price of feeding his 2,000 cows has been going up because of the drought. Shortages in hay and corn has led to higher costs to feed the cows.
Some of the corn that would have be used as feed in the past is now being sent into ethanol production and is driving up the price. And directly related to the drought, many farmers are also shifting to crops that do a bit better in drier climates, like cotton and avoiding growing hay. That also increases the price of hay. Ranchers who, in better times, fed their livestock with pastures or had animals grazing free range are now having to buy food for their animals on the open market, further increasing shortages.
Rain would help...but not this year. Even with lower prices for food, Gonzalez says that dairies across the country will continue to struggle as long as the price of milk stays at it's current level.