Because the price of milk has been marginal for the last four years, Dairy Farmers have been struggling with keeping their farms going. Dairy Farmers like Scott Sawyer have turned to beef cattle as a means to supplement their income, but Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Jeff Miller tells us it’s not an easy choice.
"There are examples of people that have made that transition, or maybe I’m going to say not transition, but kind of that addition of that diversification of dairy production, but again it’s not going to be the answer for everybody."
Other farmers are turning to soy beans, hay, grains, and even hemp, but Scott Sawyer of Hidden Hill Ranch isn’t ready to go that route.
"Certainly we could do it, but I don’t see us doing it. I can understand other people going that way, and I think it’s going to be very interesting to see it develop. I think it will develop actually, but I’m a cow guy. I like cows." (laughs)
Cornell Cooperative Extension held a discussion with local farmers interested in what the beef industry might have to offer, but the interest was low. You’re probably not going to see a massive number of farmers making the transition from dairy to beef, but given the financial stresses of the dairy industry, farmers are likely going to look to diversify into other markets. It might sound like an easy answer, but each farm has individual challenges.
Jeff Miller says: "So there’s no cookie cutter… ok if you’re in dairy now and you’re finding it really tough to stay in because of the margins, here’s your answer. It’s going to be on an individual case by case method."
Hidden Hill Ranch is hoping to sell their beef products in local farmers markets, an already established group of buyers, and right on his own farm.