National Dairy Month 2022:
Lots to celebrate as Texas milk production booming
By Darren Turley
Executive Director, Texas Association of Dairymen
During June – National Dairy Month – Texas dairy farmers and Texas dairy lovers deserve to be toasted with an extra-large glass of milk. Our state is poised to pass Idaho to officially become the third largest dairy producing state in the nation, just over a year after we unseated New York to capture fourth place.
Certainly, Texas dairy farmers deserve to be thanked and honored for their 24/7/365 hard work that achieved this milk milestone. But, on behalf of the Texas Association of Dairymen, which represents those farmers, we recognize that it also wouldn’t have been possible without the consumers, whose love of and appetite for both milk and other dairy products keep our state’s dairy herds busy.
Texas dairy industry has come a long way in the past two decades. In 2002, it produced almost 613.4 million gallons of milk. Last year, milk production topped more than 1.8 billion gallons of milk. While we’ve sadly seen many dairies close, the remaining dairies are getting bigger and cows are producing 10% more than they did a decade ago, thanks to advances in nutrition, animal care and technology.
All that additional milk translates into jobs and a boost to local and state economies.
The news of Texas’ improved ranking is especially celebratory after the past two years. Like many individuals and businesses, Texas dairy farmers endured pandemic challenges, which for them included tough economics, low milk prices and a record winter storm.
Challenges still remain in 2022. While milk prices are up for dairy farmers, elevated costs of feed, fuel, labor and fertilizer are eating away at profits. Mother Nature also has done her part; so far this year dairy farmers have battled heat, wildfires and an ongoing and worsening drought. And a nationwide shortage of truck drivers threatens to impact the availability of transporters to get milk from farm to processor to retailer.
Still, the future generally looks bright for the Texas dairy industry. Milk output should continue to grow. We are currently producing more milk than processors in the state can handle, but new plants are in the planning stages or about to come online. Also, as technology has matured, more Texas dairies are exploring adding equipment to harvest methane gas from dairy waste, enhancing our industry’s commitment to be good environmental stewards.
Texas dairy farmers hope you agree that there’s much to celebrate during National Dairy Month 2022 and that you’ll enjoy our wholesome milk, ice cream, cheese and other dairy products during this special month and beyond.