This story includes a rundown of the new Hautboy Hill Farm brand specialty “creamline” milk in Connecticut. Before retail milk prices began their run to $4 a gallon (they’re already there in New Mexico), many smaller milking operation had to fold due to government price caps. Now, driven by increased demand, limitations on dairy cows imported from Canada due to mad cow worries, farm closures, and other factors, prices are climbing rapidly. But not in time for many.
Faced with several years of $70,000 losses, Buddy Hulbert decided to close his 90-cow main operation and make the switch to specialty milk. Whatever the hell that is.
At the urging of his banker, Buddy Hurlburt drew up a business plan showing that, with just six to eight cows, he could produce 35 gallons of “creamline” whole milk a day. (Old-fashioned creamline milk, which is pasteurized but not homogenized, has to be shaken to mix in the heavier cream at the top.)
At the specialty prices charged by local stores, he could sell this for $6 a gallon, which would earn him more than $1,400 a week in gross proceeds, or about $75,000 a year. With the cash from selling off his herd earlier in the year, Hurlburt had enough to invest in pasteurizing and bottling equipment. Eleven local stores agreed to take on his new Hautboy Hill Farm brand, which the couple will begin selling at their farm stand in Cornwall in a few weeks.
“We were amazed once we ran the numbers,” Buddy Hurlburt said. “Grossing $75,000 a year direct to us was better than we were doing running 90 milk cows in a commercial operation. We realized that running a big commercial dairy was just a money-laundering operation — moving the money around but not returning the profits of milk to us.”
For $75K a year, I’d make people shake their own damn milk, too, if I thought I could get away with it.
Is this milk crisis part of a consolidation move by big dairy? When the little guys are pushed out of the lineup, will the lack of any competition allow the major players to set their own prices? Or will consumers, in the end, come out okay? I know that I’m happy buying DVDs at Best Buy. But I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. What will this mean for my cereal in the morning?
And SIX DOLLARS for a GALLON OF MILK? Do people really choose to buy the stuff? Is it really 50% better than regular milk? MO needs to know.