Knowledge Exchange

Ag Economy

2016 Northeast Dairy Farm Summary

A collaboration between Farm Credit East and Yankee Farm Credit, this year’s Northeast Dairy Farm Summary summarizes the results of more than 450 dairy farms of all sizes, from across the region.

Highlights of the 2016 Northeast Dairy Farm Summary

  • 457 dairy farms participated in the 2016 Northeast Dairy Farm Summary
  • Profitability increased marginally in 2016 from the previous year. Net earnings rose to an average of $15 per cow in 2016, from a loss of $30 per cow in 2015. This is despite a decrease in farm milk price of $1.39 per hundredweight (cwt.) to $16.85.
  • Many costs declined in 2016. Total expenses per cwt. decreased by $1.93 per cwt. to $20.20 in 2016.
  • Net cost of production (NCOP) also declined to $16.79 per cwt., $1.57 below 2015.
  • Some specific operating cost categories which decreased in 2016 are:   
    • Feed expense decreased from $1,733 per cow in 2015 to $1,576 in 2016, due to falling grain and soybean meal prices, and possibly some economizing on feed purchases.
    • Labor, a dairy farm's second largest expense, was virtually flat, increasing 1.4 percent per cow, and decreasing 2.1 percent per cwt., due to productivity gains.
    • Fuel expenses declined by 21 percent per cow.
  • Productivity increased. Per cow production of our sample was 3.6 percent higher than the prior year. Milk sold per worker increased 6.3 percent.
  • Cash flow was insufficient to meet all financial commitments (e.g., operating expenses, debt repayment, family living and income taxes), resulting in an average cash margin per cwt. of -$0.10. This shortfall was made up primarily by borrowing.
  • Percent net worth fell to 68 percent. Debt-per-cow increased from $3,681 per cow to $4,194.
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