Illinois farmers lost a lot from milk checks during pandemic

A dairy economist from Illinois says his state’s milk producers had heavy financial losses during the COVID pandemic.

Dr. Mike Hutjens tells Brownfield Illinois, unlike their cheese-making neighbors to the north in Wisconsin, has fewer and smaller farms, with most of their production not used for cheese. “We’re a very high milk market because one of our major co-ops provides almost all of the fluid milk to school programs and a lot of the grocery stores as well, so certainly, we’re fairly high into fluid so then the price differential really hammered us a year, year and a half ago.”

And Hutjens says the Illinois herd is down two and a half percent to about 79-thousand cows. “Our average herd size is about 190 cows, and boy, with today’s economy, I tell you, there’s going to be a real squeeze on our smaller producers, smaller herd size, and they can’t get bigger. They have to buy quota and they have to buy quota within the region that they’re milking cows.”

Hutjens says dairying in Illinois is not much different than the Canadian quota system because of how production is regulated by the processors.

Hutjens spoke with Brownfield during the Four State Dairy Conference in Dubuque, Iowa.

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