Texas milk production growth underscores need for advocacy

Texas milk production growth underscores need for advocacy

Texas milk production growth underscores need for advocacy

By Darren Turley
TAD Executive Director

It’s been an unusually cooler and wetter summer than usual as we get to mid-July (knock on wood) – while surely that’s a relief to all Texans, it’s especially appreciated by the state’s dairy farmers.

Rain spurs the growth of crops that dairy farmers feed to their herds. Cows are more comfortable without extreme heat, which makes them more productive, on top of the growth in milk output we naturally see during the spring. This adds to Texas’ already strong milk production – both a blessing and a curse. As I’ve written in the pass, a lack of processing options in Texas makes it difficult to find a home for all our milk. And a program to pay dairy farmers to curtail that production is having some impact.

Even with this milk reduction program, the state’s 335 dairy farmers produced 1.35 billion pounds (157 million gallons) of milk in May. Hartley, Castro and Parmer counties, with a total of 48 dairies, account for more than a third of the state’s milk production. Of the top 10 milk producing counties, nine are in the Texas Panhandle.

Texas is getting very close to delivering 7% of the nation’s milk supply. Combined, these three counties’ milk output would rank them 15th nationally among states. Nine of the top 10 milk producing counties are in the Texas Panhandle and account for more than 80% of the state’s milk. The Central Texas counties of Erath, Comanche and Hamilton – which once led the state – now account for a total of 10% of the state’s milk output.

All told, that means that 12 of the state’s total 254 counties produce almost 90% of all the state’s milk.

This explains the need for continued advocacy by the Texas dairy industry. Most Texans live east of Interstate 35, meaning most live a long way from where their milk comes from. As a result, legislators representing those individuals also tend to be removed from dairy farms – Harris County, with the city of Houston, has more elected legislators than the entire state west of I-35!

This shows how important it is to continue to educate our state legislators about dairy and agriculture issues. Right now, a special legislative session is underway in Austin. While no dairy or ag issues are on the agenda, it’s a good opportunity for the Texas Association of Dairymen to touch base, in person, with representatives and senators and continue our education efforts. We also are closely monitoring activity in case any issues of interest arise.

We’re also visiting legislators, other elected officials and candidates ahead of next year’s elections. Already there is lots of early activity in statewide races, which is discussed in our government relations team’s report in this newsletter.

As summer hits the halfway point, enjoy the cooler (so far) temperatures and your favorite frozen treat during this National Ice Cream Month, and we’ll keep an eye out as activity at the Texas Capitol heats up.




Get the latest Texas dairy news delivered monthly to your inbox.