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Dairy Farmer Sells Entire Herd

August 20, 2012, 10:05 PM by Don Jorgensen

Dairy Farmer Sells Entire Herd

We are beginning to see just how difficult the drought has been on farmers and livestock producers in KELOLAND. For one dairy farmer in Union County, it's been devastating. Because of the high price of corn, the family had to sell off their entire herd of cows because they no longer can afford to feed them.

It's been a quiet and sad week at the Heeren dairy farm after they had to sell all 200 of their milking cows.

"It came down to the decision, we were spending more money to feed the cows then they were producing in milk.  There was no other choice; we had to sell," Lillian Heeren said.

Lillian Heeren and her husband started this dairy operation six years ago. To say it's been a tough climb is an understatement.

"It's just like, I lost my spouse two and a half years ago.  This is another big loss to all of us," Heeren said.

Now the Heerens are doing all they can to hang onto what little they have left.

"We really don't know what we are going to do at this point.  The kids are going to town to find jobs," Heeren said. "I had to go to town to find a job."

And it's not just the Heerens.

"We've heard from our milk hauler that the dairy farmers of America said they've lost 400 dairies in the last three months," Heeren said.

"I milked cows since 1951, never seen it this bad," Raymond Heeren said.

Heeren's father-in-law, Raymond Heeren, says small dairy operators are hurting and may not survive. 

"I'd say you better be pretty well healed up because if they don't get this thing better, a lot of them are going down," Raymond said.

The parlor sits empty now, but the Heerens are hoping they'll be able to survive this storm and maybe one day get back into the dairy business.

"If the price of corn goes down and milk comes up, we might, but otherwise it doesn't look very bright right now," Heeren said.

Heeren says she built their dairy barn just a few years ago and will probably have to sell some land in order to pay down the loans.

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