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Ag Economy

2017 Northeast Dairy Farm Summary

This year’s Northeast Dairy Farm Summary summarizes the results of 320 dairy farms of all sizes, from across the region.

Highlights of the 2017 Northeast Dairy Farm Summary

  • 320 dairy farms participated in the 2017 Northeast Dairy Farm Summary1.
  • Profitability increased in 2017 from the previous year. Net earnings rose to an average of $291 per cow in 20172, from a profit of $15 per cow in 2016. This is largely due to an increase in farm milk price of $1.47 per hundredweight (cwt.) to $18.32.
  • Cost increases were relatively modest in 2017. Total expenses per cwt. increased by $0.12 per cwt. to $20.33 in 20173.
  • Net cost of production4 (NCOP) increased to $17.18 per cwt., $0.33 greater than 2016.
  • Some specific operating cost categories which increased in 2017 are:
  • Feed expense, a farm's largest cost, increased from $1,576 per cow in 2016 to $1,590 in 2017, but was flat on a per hundredweight basis due to productivity grains.
  • Labor, a dairy farm's second largest expense, increased 5.1 percent per cow, and 4.0 percent per cwt.
  • Fuel expense increased by 14 percent per cow after declining by 21 percent the prior year.
  • Productivity increased slightly. Per cow production of our sample was 1.0 percent higher than the prior year. Milk sold per worker decreased 0.9 percent due to fewer cows per worker.
  • Cash flow fell short of meeting all financial commitments (e.g., operating expenses, debt repayment, family living and income taxes), resulting in an average cash margin per cwt. of -$0.015. While this is a small deficit, it represents the third consecutive year of negative cash margins.
  • Percent net worth in our sample increased to 69 percent. Debt-per-cow decreased from $4,194 per cow to $3,814. Note that total debt per farm increased, but declined on a per cow basis due to the increased herd sizes of farms in the sample.

1 This year's DFS does not contain data from Vermont
2 After family living, on an accrual basis. Does not include nonfarm income.
3 Including family living.
4 Total farm expense, plus family living, less non-milk income. For more information, see page 12 of the report.
5 See Figure 7 of the report.

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