Our co-farming partner was unable to weather the prolonged downturn in milk prices and dissolved his business. We assumed his livestock loan and added his herd to our own. He is now a trucker, hauling milk long distance.
Doubling cows to milk means twice as much for Dan to do, but there is no magic number for business size or hours worked that can make a Vermont dairy profitable. It's all down to an outmoded government-controlled pricing scheme.
I've heard people say of farm subsidies - that they are "unfair" to "taxpayers" - but the dairies that receive disaster payments get only a fraction of the money being lost. The hard truth is that farmers are the ones subsidizing the dairy industry. It's our earned money poured back into our businesses, and loans against our assets that subsidize farming - not the paltry sums doled out by the government. Only farmers who can manage such funding will survive this latest round of unfair pricing.
And for the record, we still haven't seen a federal MILC check.