Farmers who feed America are sounding the alarm and they want Americans to listen.
In 2023, the cost of farmland rose by 7% and the cost to do business is squeezing out young farmers.
“There’s a family down the road that owns the last working dairy farm in the county,” said Taylor Rhodes, owner of Frank’s Produce and Greenhouses in Elkridge, Maryland. “It costs more money to turn the lights on to milk the cows. It’s the last business I’d want to be in. They’re the hardest-working people for such little money.”
Rhodes was pointing out that the maple Dell Farm is owned by Derek Patrick who is a third generation farmer.
Patrick said that fluctuating milk prices and feed prices are putting immense strain on his farm.
“It’s something else,” said Patrick. “Some days, it’s questionable.”
Patrick’s farmhands are mainly family who milk twice a day. Every other day their 28,000 pound tank of milk is emptied and transported to plants around the country.
“It goes all over the place” Patrick said of the fluctuation of animal byproduct prices. “It has the ebbs and flows of the stock market.”
Patrick wants to know where the money is going because as prices for milk in the store rise he still only making $20 per 100 pounds of milk.
“Some months, we see crazy high prices,” he said. “But where is it all going? We would get $20 per 100 pounds of milk. Every 100 pounds of milk we’re producing, we’ll receive $20 from that 8.3 gallons of milk.”
Rhodes is raising steers for meat and said margins are getting really tough to maintain.
From Fox News Business:
While raising cattle can be profitable, farmers need a ton of land to make it a lucrative business. Rhodes’ farm has around 50 acres of pasture for the nearly 40 cows she owns, but with the rising cost of farmland, it will be much more difficult to purchase more land.
USDA data shows the average price of farmland in the U.S. is $4,080 dollars per acre. In Iowa it is $9,930. In California, $12,400. And in Maryland, an acre of land goes for about $9,700. So, if Rhodes were looking to double the number of cows she owns to produce more meat, she’d have to double her pasture size for the cows. This puts her farmland bill at a whopping $485,000 for 50 acres.
And if Patrick were to need more room for his dairy cows as the last dairy farmer in Howard County, he could be looking at a $4,365,000 tab.
As prices go up farmers just want Americans to know they are doing the best they can.
“Small family farmers are working really hard to provide quality products to put on your plate,” Rhodes said. “It’s a lot of heartache. It’s a lot. Everyone is just trying to feed America.”