The dairy industry is in a period of economic volatility of historic proportions. An era of modest fluctuation in milk and feed pricing in the late 1990s to the early 2000s was followed by increases in milk prices not seen before. The period of high dairy profitability in early 2008 was soon dampened because of substantial increases in production costs as a result of high fuel and feed costs as the USA government encouraged crop farmers to produce corn for ethanol distillation. Since then, milk prices have rebounded and dropped several times, although not to the same extent. USA dairy product exports have also fluctuated widely, contributing significantly to milk price volatility and overall profitability. As of early 2014, some 15% of USA dairy products are exported, milk prices are at an all-time high, and feed prices are somewhat lower.
Last full review/revision April 2014 by R. Page Dinsmore, DVM