Dairy turns to own corn crop as Midwest drought drives up prices

Dairy turns to own corn crop as Midwest drought drives up prices

JUNCTION CITY, Ore. - The worst Midwest drought in half a century has sent corn prices to record highs, and Oregon dairy farmers are scrambling for relief as corn prices shoot up.

Jock Gibson at Lochmead Farms said they didn't see it coming.

"Absolutely not," he said. "If we had, we would have bought 12 months supply of corn."

Corn that sold for $7.50 per bushel will cost $9 now.

But a few years back, Lochmead Farms sowed the seed of growing their way out of just such a dilemma: They planted 400 acres in corn, then added another 200 acres last summer.

Given what's happened in the Midwest, they are glad they did.

"It supplements buying corn from the Midwest, so this is a crucial part of our ration now," said Chris Gibson with Lochmead Farms.

Their local crop means Lochmead can cut its Midwest corn quota by 70 percent.

"They foresaw what was going on and again that's what we see people doing is they're predicting what's going on," said Ross Penhallegon with the Oregon State University Extension Service.

And that helps keep the milk flowing: 6,000 gallons per day.

"It's all about money," Gibson said, "the cost of producing milk."