Hardee County dairy farm explains why price of milk keeps rising

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard
Published: Updated:
Dairy farm
The Nickerson Cattle Company in Hendry County produces about 11,000 gallons of milk a day. (CREDIT: WINK News)

The price of milk has increased by 7% compared to March of 2021.

Why is the kitchen staple continuing to rise?

Well before, your milk hits the kitchen shelf, it originates from the Nickerson Cattle Company, a dairy farm in Hardee County run by fifth-generation farmer Brittany Thurlow-Nickerson.

Taking care of more than 2,000 happy cows takes a lot of work year-round.

“We have seen a consumption response, I think that we’ve had a positive increase in milk consumption, milk, cheese, butter, all of those things there for a while,” Thurlow-Nickerson said.

On average, the Nickerson Cattle Company produces 11,000 gallons of milk a day. But with the war in Ukraine and inflation, it’s not bringing in as much money in as it used to.

“We have to feed our cows a pound of feed. So as that feed price increases, that kind of minimizes our margin there. And the reason for some of those inputs, you know, is everything from diesel, to fertilizer,” Thurlow-Nickerson said. “It cost a corn farmer more to grow corn, right. And then we have to ship it down here to Florida to be able to feed to our cattle and mill into our feed.”

Normally, an increase in production cost would mean an increase for you at the grocery store check out.

But don’t point the finger at dairy farmers when it comes to a gallon of milk closing in on $5 per gallon.

She said they don’t get to raise prices to offset the rise in the cost to operate the farm.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets milk prices monthly and they aren’t keeping up with inflation.

“It’s costing retailers more money as well,” Thurlow-Nickerson said. “It’s not just input, at the farm level, it’s also input to the retailer. We deliver our milk to the milk plant, well, then they have to deliver their packaged milk to their distribution plants or their distribution facilities, and then to the stores. All of that takes $5 diesel to get there. And that has increased the price.”

WINK News reached out to Publix, where the majority of Nickerson’s milk ends up, as well as Walmart and the National Growers Association about pricing we have not received a response by the time of publishing.

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