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Posted on: April 23, 2019

Takeaways from Nevada Dairy and Livestock Summit in April

Crowd view at livestock summit

The 2019 Nevada Dairy and Livestock Summit was co-sponsored by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, the City of Fallon and the Churchill Economic Development Authority. Here are a few takeaways from summit speakers:

Tom Harris, director, University of Nevada, Reno Center for Economic Development

  • All but four Nevada dairies are in or near Churchill County.
  • Dairy production in Churchill County is an exporting sector; the Dairy Farmers of America plant here could bolster that economic cluster locally. 
  • Dairy sector in Churchill is 12th highest among Churchill’s 164 economic sectors in terms of value of output which was $37.8 million in 2017, add in indirect and induced linkages of the county’s dairy sector and it yields another $5.8 million to overall economy for a total of $43.6 million.
  • Locally, the 2007 economic recession followed by five years of drought and international trade problems impacted agriculture sector. For example, from 2014-2017 net farm income dropped more than 90 percent. Less money in economy from farmers means less spending in local economies because they buy locally.
  • Fewer are entering the farming industry, often with younger generations opting to sell family farmland to developers. Average age of the U.S. farmer is 57.5 years.

Mike Helmar, research analyst, University of Nevada, Reno Center for Economic Development

  • Cattle producers facing price down cycle right now; prices to bottom out in 2020.
  • Approximately 470,000 head of cattle currently in Churchill County.
  • Milk prices reflect national supply glut so dairy will be tough for next few years.
  • China reduced its U.S. imports at end of 2018.
  • New Zealand is big player in whole milk industry; constrained profits make expansion difficult.
  • Sheep industry: leveling off after several years of decline due to rise in populations from Latin America and Middle East that eat mutton. Industry looks decent in next few years. Wool is 20 percent of overall sheep industry income.

George Knapek, program manager for representative farms, Texas A&M University

  • Number of dairies is down in the U.S., but up in Nevada; downturn is leading to consolidation in dairy industry.
  • Seeing financial distress, more debt and loan defaults.
  • Barriers to entry into agriculture industry: cost of land, credit, need for specialized equipment.
  • Difficult to enter the industry if not inherited from family. 
  • Dairy exports, including dry milk will be a greater part of the dairy industry.
  • Dry milk and cheese exports should rise slightly, but butter will remain steady.

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