Small dairy farmers are disappearing as milk prices stay low

LINCOLN COUNTY, MO - The Boedeker Brothers Farm is the last dairy farm left in Lincoln and Pike Counties, and come Wednesday the heard that was built over 80 years will be dismantled in a matter of minutes.

The Boedeker Brothers Farm was started in 1936. Tom, Joe Bert, and Jim Boedeker have been working on the farm all their lives. A job they work seven days a week starting around 5 a.m. and ending about 8 p.m.

Tom Boedeker said there used to be about 20 other small farms near them but now they are the only ones left.

Right now, the Boedekers have 80 cows but on Wednesday they have to take them all to auction. Tom said a lot of other small dairy operations they can no longer make a profit. He said milk prices have been extremely low for about two and a half years. Small dairy farms are struggling to make enough money to keep operating.

Tom said the mega-dairy operations are taking over. They can milk for 24 hours a day and processors can pick up one trailer load of milk there instead of stopping at 15 smaller farms. He said they are keeping milk prices so low that small farms can’t buy new machines or cows to keep up.

According to the Missouri State Milk Board, Missouri lost 63 Grade A dairy farms from 2016 to 2017.

The Boedeker family can’t imagine a farm without cows come Wednesday but they will continue to farm, focusing on their corn and beans.