Dairy Production Costs Climb and Per Acre Water Use Down
**California dairy farmers may be earning a higher market price for their milk these days, but they’re paying more to produce it.
Water restrictions have caused the price of local feed to spike, as more growers reduce plantings of crops such as alfalfa hay and silage.
Dairies around the nation also face challenges with rising production costs and market uncertainties due to the pandemic, which led to a slowing of U.S. milk production.
**The Latest Rural Mainstreet Index shows rising input prices as the top threat in 2022 for farmers.
The index declined in January, though it remained above growth neutral for the 14th straight month.
Overall, the region's reading for January fell to 61.1 from December's 66.7, with 50.0 representing growth neutral.
The region’s farmland price index decreased to a very strong 88.5 from December’s record high of 90.0.
**Updated information from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows per-acre water usage is declining on irrigated farmland, which it’s been doing since 1969.
The average water use per irrigated acre was more than two acre-feet in 1969, declining to nearly 1.5 acre-feet by 2018.
One acre-foot equals roughly 325,000 gallons.
USDA says efficient water application technologies, such as the transition from gravity-based to pressurized irrigation systems, have driven the reduction in water use per acre of irrigated land.