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Summit highlights challenges facing Illinois’ dairy industry

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(The Center Square) – Illinois dairy industry officials are discussing possible ways to tackle the forecasted increase in production expenses and drop in farm income.

The 14th Annual Illinois Dairy Summit in Freeport recently featured the Illinois Milk Producers Association and the University of Illinois Dairy Extension. The groups discussed possible ways to tackle the forecasted increase in production expenses and drop in farm income.

IMPA Manager Tasha Bunting said it is also a chance for dairy farmers to find out what the U of I dairy farm is up to.

“Another thing that the dairy farmers always look to is some of the research that comes out of University of Illinois and the dairy farm and different ways that they might take some of that research and implement it on their own farms,” Bunting said.

Dairy producers have been at odds with the U.S. Department of Agriculture over plans to revise the Federal Milk Marketing Order program that sets the minimum prices that dairy farmers receive for their milk. Critics of the current milk pricing structure contend it is outdated.

In the coming months, the USDA is expected to consider testimony from all stakeholders as it attempts to modernize the FMMO program that reflects the current landscape of the country’s dairy industry.

Industry officials also warn that a sharp decline in the number of dairy cows available to replace older cows could limit any meaningful growth in domestic milk production over the coming years. The USDA’s latest cattle report showed the number of dairy replacement heifers is at a 20-year low.

IMPA has served the Illinois dairy industry since 1933 and represents more than three-fourths of the milk marketed in the state.