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What's Behind Low Dairy Prices And Too Much Cheese

The surplus of cheese in the United States is due to lower milk prices. When milk prices go down, farmers make more milk and produce more dairy products, such as cheese, that have longer shelf lives.
The surplus of cheese in the United States is due to lower milk prices. When milk prices go down, farmers make more milk and produce more dairy products, such as cheese, that have longer shelf lives.

If you like cheese, you're in luck. There's currently a surplus of cheese in the United States. But that extra cheese is actually a sign that milk prices are going down, and this is a problem for Vermont dairy farmers.

When milk prices go down, dairy producers end up making more milk to try to keep making a profit. Since milk doesn't keep very well, this leads to the production of a great supply of dairy products that have longer shelf lives, like cheese.

The surplus cheese is hurting Vermont dairy farmers, Bob Parsons, professor of community development and applied economics at UVM Extension, told Vermont Edition Monday.

"Most of the farmers right now, they're seeing prices that's probably $4 or $5 under their cost of production," Parson said.

One of the problems is that the United States isn't exporting as much of its dairy products abroad. Countries like China are getting more dairy products from other countries because it's cheaper.

A combination of factors like the lowering of the U.S. dollar and a rejuvenation of the market might help dairy farmers, said Parson. 

Update 4:30 p.m. This post has been updated to include additional information from the Vermont Edition interview.

Copyright 2016 Vermont Public Radio