Chris Kraft is holding fast to his farm and the life he and Mary have built for their children. He hopes the drought will bring attention to the difficult work of producing milk and will inspire customers to “think behind the shelf .”
But for penny-wise shoppers, the drought’s effect on the prices of our yogurts, cheesy pizzas, and gourmet coffee creamers cannot be ignored. In the first half of 2012, the average price of a gallon of whole milk actually fell by 18 cents, to $3.40. Between June and September the price increased by just 7 cents. The USDA predicts that milk prices will continue to rise and consumers will feel the effect at the supermarket by early 2013.
The higher retail price of milk won’t ease the pressure on dairy farmers, who will continue to suffer the effects of the drought for months to come. Fear not, though, these farmers are committed to their way of life; to providing nutritious, safe food to a growing population; and to taking care of the land they’ve inherited. Their dedication makes it possible for those farm kids, who today can’t see themselves as anything but future dairy farmers, to pursue the passion they learned from their parents and grandparents.
In our global economy, a problem for one is often a problem for all. Does this summer’s drought have international implications? And if times are so tough, how are American dairy farmers managing to survive and thrive? Stay tuned for the next articles in “Behind the Shelf: How the Drought Is Affecting Dairy.”