Photo Credit: Tony Northrup
From Even Dairy Farming Has a 1 Percent:
When Bob was a kid, during the Depression, he and his 10 siblings milked the family’s 15 cows by hand and produced 350 pounds’ worth of milk per day. By the time Robert was a teenager, in the 1970s, the farm had grown to 90 cows — all of which were milked automatically through vacuum technology — and sold around 4,000 pounds of milk per day. Now the Fulpers own 135 cows, which produce more than 8,000 pounds of milk.
So the farm should be more lucrative, right? Robert showed me exactly how much money he and his brother made last year, an unusually profitable one for the dairy industry. He asked me not to reveal the number, but let’s put it this way: Robert and Fred start work at 4:30 a.m., finish at 7 p.m. and trade Sundays off. If you divide their 2011 profit by their weekly hours, they earn considerably less than minimum wage.
Which is still considerably better than the 135 mothers that are continually impregnated (because without babies, cows don’t produce milk), only to have their children taken from them, until they no longer can and then- well, you know…
Bob…told me a number of hysterical, unprintable farm jokes during my visit, but he turned pensive when it came to his farm’s future…“You just stay in the cowshed longer, work harder,” he says.
Right. You just work (the cows- the mothers) harder.