By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaFewer Georgia dairy farmers, extended drought and rising fuel prices have driven the cost of a gallon of milk higher than a gallon of gasoline, says a University of Georgia economist. In January, milk cost $3.29 per gallon in most stores. It now costs $3.99. That’s a 20 percent increase, said Tommie Shepherd, an economist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The price increase comes in part from a seasonal reduction in the milk supply, he said. Dairy cows produce less milk during hot summer months. But, this year’s natural slow-down coupled with sharp increases in production costs resulted in steep prices at the dairy counter. They will likely go even higher.Drought withers grazing grubDrought conditions contributed to rising milk production costs here and around the region. “Cattle that normally would be eating grass are being fed as if it were winter,” said Tom Thompson, a Georgia dairyman and president of the Georgia Milk Producers. The invigorated ethanol industry also contributed to higher milk prices, he said. Feed is the major cost of milk production. And corn is a primary feed ingredient. “Our nation’s drive for energy independence has resulted in a tremendous expansion of corn-based ethanol plants,” Thompson said. “This has raised the price of corn, and other feed ingredients, by a minimum of 50 percent.”Raising fuel costs have also affected dairymen’s transportation costs.“The farmer pays the cost to deliver the milk to the processing plant,” Thompson said. “He also pays some of the costs to import milk the plants need that he’s not able to provide.”Fluid milk prices set recordOn the positive side for farmers, the price they get for fluid milk is up. “Fluid milk prices are tied to milk production and commodity prices for products that are made from milk, like cheese, butter, powder and whey,” Shepherd said. “USDA surveys those prices and determines a minimum milk price for farmers.”Last month, fluid milk prices were a record-high $21 per hundred pounds. (A gallon of milk weights 8.6 pounds.) Next month, Shepherd predicts fluid milk prices close to $25 per hundred pounds. Milk, cheese, butter costs more“If history is any guide, wholesale milk prices will continue to go up,” he said. “Consumers can expect prices in the mid $4 range for store brands, and up to $7 a gallon for premium brands, by September.”Milk product prices are also on the rise. Cheese is averaging $2 per pound and butter is at $1.50 per pound, he said.Another critical factor in the high price of milk is fewer dairy farmers staying in business. They either can’t make a living or retire with no one to take over the dairy.In 2000, Georgia had 408 dairy farmers. Today, only 273 remain. Thompson estimates if the trend continues at this rate, “virtually no dairies will exist in the Southeast in 10 years.” Population up, production down“We lose about 5 percent a year,” Shepherd said. “The ones that stay in business tend to grow larger, but we still lose 2 percent of our production a year.”USDA reports Southeast milk production declined by 3.6 percent per year over the past six years. Thompson says that while the Southeast’s population is among the fastest growing nationally, milk production isn’t keeping up. In fact, “milk production is decreasing at one of the highest rates in the country and is now deficit year round,” he said.About half of Georgia’s milk production is shipped to Florida. It’s replaced by milk shipped here from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Indiana. Georgia imports more than 1,000 tankers of milk monthly, Thompson said. Farmers pay the freight costs to their farms and from their farms. “No wonder many dairymen have decided it’s just not worth it,” he said.
Junior forward Nick Rakocevic shoots a layup against Long Beach State Nov. 28 at Galen Center. (Josh Dunst/Daily Trojan)Junior forward Nick Rakocevic earned his first career Pac-12 Player of the Week honor for the week of Jan. 7 when the Trojans faced Cal and Stanford at home. This marks the first Pac-12 Player of the Week award for USC this season. Rakocevic was fundamental in the Trojans’ feat of starting conference play 2-0. In an 82-73 victory over Cal, he boasted a career-high 27 points and eight rebounds while shooting 85 percent from the field and leading the team in both points and rebounds. He had a similarly impressive showing in the 77-66 victory over Stanford, where he again led the team with 23 points and 10 rebounds. His 57 percent shooting from the field was enough to help fend off a late comeback from the Cardinal. He held combined averages of 25 points, a 69.7 field goal percentage and nine rebounds per game to secure his Pac-12 recognition. Throughout the last 15 games of the season, Rakocevic has averaged 15.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. As a sophomore, he averaged 8.1 points per game and 5.2 during his freshman season. USC will travel to Oregon to play Oregon State Thursday and Oregon Sunday. read more
Zack. Greinke.📝 https://t.co/itdnCJP6sg pic.twitter.com/Beb5gLiFwS— Houston Astros (@astros) July 31, 2019Arizona will receive four prospects — Corbin Martin, J.B. Bukauskas, Seth Beer and Josh Rojas — in the trade.The 35-year-old right-hander holds a 10-4 record with a 2.87 ERA in 22 starts so far this season. The six-time All-Star is under contract through the 2021 season after signing a massive six-year, $206.5 million deal with Arizona in December 2015. The Diamondbacks will send $24 million to Houston as part of the deal, The Athletic reported, covering a significant chunk of the approximately $73 million remaining on the pitcher’s contract. Houston, meanwhile, entered play Wednesday leading the American League West with a 69-39 record. However, the Astros lacked depth in their rotation behind Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley. With Zack Greinke, the @astros now have 3 of the top 5 MLB leaders in WHIP (Verlander 1st, Greinke 2nd, Cole 5th).The last time a team finished with 3 of the top 5 leaders in WHIP in a season was the 1925 Reds (Dolf Luque, Pete Donohue, Eppa Rixey).#TakeItBack— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) July 31, 2019″We can win a seven-game series against any playoff team right now,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said last week, via the Houston Chronicle. “That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be an opportunity that presents itself to bring in another starter who could be a playoff rotation starter. We’re looking at them.”Verlander reacted to the addition of Greinke on Twitter shortly after the deal was reported. Wow… that escalated quickly! 🔥🔥🔥 @astros— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) July 31, 2019The Astros also acquired right-handers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini and outfielder Cal Stevens from the Blue Jays for outfielder Derek Fisher and sent catcher Max Stassi to the Angels in exchange for minor league outfielders Rainier Rivas and Raider Uceta. The Astros finally added a pitcher.Houston, which had been pursuing a starter for most of the month, missed out on most of its reported targets but landed Zack Greinke in a major deal with the Diamondbacks just before Wednesday’s deadline. read more