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Raw Milk Program Update Suzy Konecky

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2014 December Issue Newsletter

NOFA/Mass Raw Milk Network Coordinator

One of NOFA/Mass’ smaller programs is the Raw Milk Program. This is a network of dairy farmers around the state who produce and market their fresh, raw milk, and have a license to do so by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. There are 29 licensed raw milk dairy farms in the state that we know of, producing either cow’s milk or goat’s milk. I coordinate the program and plan to share the stories of these farmers in coming newsletters. In this issue, I want to give a little insight into the economics of selling raw milk, using the farm where I work, Cricket Creek Farm, as an example.  

Let’s Look at the Numbers

For the past 2 years we have sold about 84 gallons of raw milk per week, coming to about 4,400 gallons per year. At a rate of $8 per gallon (or $4 per half gallon), we have grossed about $35,000 each year from our raw milk sales. We operate our business by dividing up each enterprise as being financially independent (although truly they are all under one umbrella of the farm), so that we can more clearly evaluate each enterprise on its own merit. Therefore, the “raw milk enterprise” buys milk from our dairy cows. The cows also sell milk to the creamery, where we make cheese. 

Tracking the internal transactions of the distribution of milk to our various enterprises helps us to see how selling raw milk compares to other potential avenues of milk distribution. We sell our milk to ourselves at $30/ ctw (per hundred pounds of milk), since milk is most often sold in units of 100 lbs. Therefore, the “raw milk enterprise” paid the dairy cows $11,352 for the milk that was sold. Our other expenses amounted to about $4,000 each year, which includes the packaging of the raw milk (bottles, caps, labels), and labor of bottling it. Since we can only sell raw milk from the farm in Massachusetts, there is no expense of transport.  

$35,000 gross profit - $11,400 for milk - $4,000 other expenses = $19,600 profit

For a dairy farmer, there is no better way (that I can think of) to package and sell your milk. This brief analysis is a vast simplification of a very complex industry, but I hope that it sheds some light on the financial benefit of raw milk to the bottom line of a dairy farm. I don’t intend to speak on behalf of other dairy farms with these numbers, but simply to provide a glimpse into what is happening on one small Massachusetts dairy farm.  

Stay tuned for more insight into raw milk dairy farming in Massachusetts in future newsletters. In the meantime, check out this graphic that touches on some of the important concepts surrounding raw milk in our state.  

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