Changes in Kentucky's Dairy Industry
The decline in the number of dairy farms continues in Kentucky. A decade ago, State Dairy Marketing Specialist Eunice Schlappi says the Commonwealth had about two thousand dairy farms. Schlappi says that number is down to about 850 today. “Much of that is due to the fluctuation of milk prices..the higher cost of inputs…and also the next generation not wanting to stay on the farm because of the hours involved..the returns,” said Schlappi.
Some Kentucky dairy farmers are moving beyond milk production. Eunice Schlappi says the number of dairy farm numbers has declined from about two thousand a decade ago to 850 today. And some of those surviving farms are selling to tourists.
“We’ve got folks raising dairy heifers for other people. We’ve got people making cheese, bottling milk, making ice cream on the farm. We’ve also got them doing agri-tourism where they’re bringing folks in to say look this is what life is like on our farm,” added Schlappi.
While the number of farms is down, Schlappi predicts the average herd size will increase. Despite the changes, she predicts the family farm will remain the foundation of Kentucky’s dairy industry.