Though the numbers are still being calculated, it looks like more than 30,000 cows are dead because of a blizzard over Christmas weekend in Texas and New Mexico. Tara Vander Dussen runs Rajen Dairy in Clovis, New Mexico. She has about 10,000 cows and said her farm had to dump 10 tankers of finished milk because trucks couldn’t get there to pick it up.
“And that’s about the equivalent of $80,000,” she said.
New Mexico produces a lot of dairy. It's fourth in cheese production in the U.S. and ranks ninth in liquid milk. Vander Dussen said everyone she knows is in the dairy business. Her farm lost about 100 cows, and some neighbors lost many more.
“It was devastating to hear all the stories coming in from the storm because we are all so close,” she said.
Even though it seems like a lot of cows, Brian Gould, agricultural and applied economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said it likely won't change national prices much. There are more than 9 million cows in the U.S., but this could still be tough for the region.
“I would think that most of those producers that were impacted sell to one plant," he said. "That plant could be severely impacted.”
The USDA will have a better idea of the storm’s effects when it releases its monthly report of milk production.