The US dairy industry is undergoing change and cow numbers are expected to reach 9.2m head by 2024, according to Dr Robert Johansson, Chief Economist with the US Department of Agriculture.
“We expect cow numbers to continue to recover going forward to 2018-2019 rising to its highest point in 2019,” he told over 400 delegates at the Agricultural Science Association’s conference in Co. Kilkenny.
Dr Johansson said that by 2024 individual dairy cow production is expected to increased to just over 12,250kg per cow.
But, he said the nature of dairy farming in the US will change in the coming years as bigger farmers continue to grow in numbers, while smaller operators continue to reduce cow numbers.
Presently, the average dairy farm in the US has just over 900 cows, he said.
We have seen consolidation happen in the United States, the number of farms in the United States has remained fairly constant for the last decade or so and I don’t expect that to change.
“We have about 2.1m farms in the United States, but the production that occurs on the larger farms is definitively increasing as a percentage of the the whole
“On small farmers, we see a lot of retired farmers with low levels of production.
He also said that the US dairy sector is going to continue to look for export markets as a method of selling the extra productivity that has been seen in recent years.
“Global trade will grow more slowly in the interim with the greatest increases in developing economies,” he said.
The increase in global dairy production that has resulted in lower prices recently also had an affect on farms in the US, he said, with revenues from milk production falling due to higher global stocks.
Dr Johansson also said the that US milk processors have also moved to consolidate their interests in recent years, which has reduced the number of processors and spread the risk over a larger milk pool.
Benefits of TTIP to the US dairy industry
The USDA representative also spoke about the benefits of TTIP to the US dairy industry.
“The analysis that we did at USDA last year showed that TTIP under fairly theoretical constructs by aggressively reducing tariffs and non-tariff measures would result in a $300m dollar increase in dairy exports from the US to the EU and a $300m increase in EU exports to the US
“The components of that trade are very interesting to look at, most of the increase in EU exports to the US would be cheese and most of the increase in exports to the EU would be in a variety of other products such as whey, milk powder and butter.”