The Tulare County Annual Crop and Livestock Report for 2011 was released today, as reported by The Business Journal. The report shows that income from dairy operations in the county were up in 2011. However, due to high feed prices, the squeeze on dairy farmers that has been happening since 2008/2009 has not let up.
I have several dairies that I am working with right now in Chapter 12 and Chapter 11 bankruptcies and this is exactly what they are seeing too. The milk prices are up a little, but feed prices have risen so high that it is very difficult to make a dairy operation financially feasible, especially if a dairy farmer has a lot of debt. In many situations, we are able to restructure the debt in Chapter 12 (family farmer) or Chapter 11 (reorganization), but sometimes the debt load is just too high. My advice to dairy farmers is that it is better to consult early rather than later with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney if you think you may be headed that way. If you wait too long, you may have waited so long that all of your options are gone.