June is dairy month across the nation, but it marks a very special time for Erath County because it gives us an opportunity to recognize and celebrate our largest agriculture industry. The dairy industry has changed in Erath County, but still remains a strong and viable part of our community. According to the latest milk market administrator’s report, Erath County sits at number 3 in milk production for the state of Texas.
We currently have 60 dairy farms which produced 87,237,503 pounds of milk for the month of April. In 2013 Erath County dairies produced an estimated total of 1,009,935,414 pounds of milk, making it the number one agriculture commodity in Erath County. When we convert that to gallons, dairy producers in Erath County produced 134,837,907 gallons of milk in 2011 or 4,925 gallons of milk per day.
So how does that impact Erath County? Each year an agricultural increment report is completed for counties across the state of Texas. Information is compiled utilizing a diverse group of agriculture producers and agricultural statistics. This reports show the cash receipts (not income) for agricultural commodities produced in the county. Erath County produced a total of $298,126,150 in agricultural commodities. Milk accounted for $197,139,400 of the total, which makes up 66% of the total agricultural receipts. When we take into account the forages produced and cattle sold, and add that to the milk produced, the total agricultural receipts for dairy production account for 82% of all agricultural receipts in this county.
Dairy producers are spending more than 50% of their cash receipts on feed alone, which has stimulated a whole other economy in the region for feed processors and farmers. They pay taxes for the increased value of land and buildings in their business, and they support a whole host of other businesses who support their industry. On average, for every 100 cows, they produce 1 job on the dairy farm. It is a complex industry and a very big part of our community.
A few facts about dairy production in Erath County:
• Erath County produced 121,678,964 gallons of milk in 2013.
• That is enough milk to provide 5,333,872 people an 8 oz glass of whole milk each day for a year.
• That is also enough gallon jugs of milk to line up half way around the equator.
Whit Weems is an Erath County extension agent. His column appears weekly and online at yourstephenvilletx.com.