Bay Journal

Topics: Pollution

Lower milk prices, demand taking toll on region’s dairy farmers

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For many dairy farmers in Chesapeake Bay states, the financial screws keep tightening.

While grain farmers can be hurt by disastrous years such as 2018 when water-soaked fields resulted in zero yields for some, they are backed by crop insurance programs that help get them through year-to-year market fluctuations.

But for dairy farmers, a decade of low milk prices brought on by oversupply and falling demand is taking a toll. Some ag lenders and those in the farm real estate business foresee a wave of banks shutting down credit for struggling dairy farmers this fall or winter, expediting a steady several-year stream of farmers leaving the business.

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About Pollution

Nutrient pollution, the nitrogen and phosphorus that originates from farms, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff and air pollution, is a major source of pollution to the Chesapeake. In the Bay, they spur growth of algae blooms which block sunlight needed by important underwater grass beds. When the algae dies, they are decomposed in a process that depletes the water of oxygen needed by other species.

Sediment eroded from the land and streambanks degrades stream health and reduces water clarity. Toxins and other chemical contaminants also pose a direct threat to fish throughout the Bay and its watershed.

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