Rhode Island Dairy Farmers Adjusting for Lack of Demand

By: Tim Studebaker

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EXETER, R.I. (WLNE) – Dairy farming has seen some new challenges in recent years as more and more alternatives come to the mainstream.

Alex LaPrise is the Director of the Rhody Fresh Rhode Island Dairy Farms Cooperative, and her family also owns EMMA Acres in Exeter.

LaPrise says, “You’ve got the almond, the soy, the coconut.  It goes on, and on, and on.”

As people make the switch, sales have been dropping for dairy farmers large and small, like the member farms of Rhody Fresh.

LaPrise says, “All over the country, the farmers are going out of business.”

She says that’s because as demand has dropped, their income has gone down.  It’s to the point where they’re losing money.

LaPrise says, “Farmers are getting paid $15 for 100 pounds of milk, and it costs them over $20.  So, there’s a very large gap that they have to fill.”

She says many farmers have to make up for that difference, some with full time jobs off the farm, like her parents.  She says the drop in demand for milk leaves them to figure out how to stay in the market.

LaPrise says, “So Rhody Fresh is trying to adjust and make up for the sales lost in fluid milk by introducing other co–products, such as our new ice cream.  We’re doing butter.  We do apple cider in the fall season.”

She says there are benefits to knowing where your dairy products come from, whether you buy their milk or one of their new products.

LaPrise says, “They’re always welcome to stop in and see how the cows are treated and how the babies are treated, just to see that this is a family run operation and these animals mean the world to us.”

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2018