Indiana drought expected to raise the price of milk and dairy products

Droughts and Heat WavesConsumersJohn Elliott

The drought has taken a toll on Indiana dairy farmers, and Hoosier are expected to soon pay more for milk and dairy products at area grocery stores.

"We buy three gallons of chocolate and two gallons of white milk a week," said Tanya King, a shopper who admits milk is a favorite with her family.

"The cheaper the better, but I do like whole milk," said Christy Solomon, another shopper.

Dairy cows are struggling in the extreme heat despite farmers' best efforts. This has led to less milk production, but experts say it is not enough to make a big impact on the market.

"We have fans and sprinklers on them to keep them cool," said Adam Monhaut with Kelsay Farms in Whitestown.

A Kroger spokesman said their supply has not been affected by the drought at this time. Still, prices will soon be on the rise.

"I think it's a safe assumption that we are going to see a drop in supply thus an increase in the cost for Kroger as a dairy producer," said John Elliott, a Kroger spokesman.

Kroger owns a dairy farm in Indianapolis and a cheese processor in Crawfordsville called Pace Dairy Foods.

Christopher Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, believes shoppers could pay an extra 10 to 15 cents more for a gallon of milk next month, but the drought will not truly affect prices until October, when different types of grain are harvested.

The grain, some of which is used for feed, has been devastated by the drought in terms of quality and quantity.

"As we have reduced supplies of the growing crop, the prices of those underlying commodities have increased to a point that it will affect the livestock producers feed price," said Joe Kelsay, Director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture.

Kelsay also said Indiana farmers cannot absorb the extra expenses on their own.

"Milk, fresh milk is going to see a pretty quick impact, but with ice cream or processed cheese, there is a lag time," said Elliott.

The shoppers Fox59 spoke with had mixed reactions about the spike in milk prices.

"I will look for the special, four for five dollars," said King.

"I would cut down probably on the quantity," said Carolyn Green, another shopper.

Kelsay also said they are waiting for the August crop report that will more clearly reveal what farmers and consumers can expect at the end of the year.

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