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DAIRYING IN THE SOUTH Loyal Durand Jr.* Dairy farming in the southeastern United States is oriented principally to its markets for fluid whole milk in the cities, towns and villages of the region. The dairy formers sell whole milk directly to processors (the city distributors) or sell through a cooperative organization. Milk bottlers and distributors market the various milk products—milk, skim milk, cream, half and half, chocolate milk, and others—and manufacture ice cream and cottage cheese (really a curd) from the daily or seasonal surplus. The ubiquitous ice cream and cottage cheese are associated with the urban milk companies and are produced at or near the market, not at the source ofthe raw material. The major manufactured products—butter; cheese; evaporated, condensed and powdered milk—are made in the regions where dairying is intensive and there is surplus whole milk to support industry. The fact that dairying in the South is oriented mainly to the urban de­ mand, and is generally adjusted to it, results in but small surpluses for manufacturing. Only in one large region of the South and in three smaller ones is there enough continuous production of milk above the regional needs to support dairy manufacturing plants. Elsewhere, manufacturing (except for cottage cheese and ice cream) is based usually upon seasonal or short-period surpluses, and production is irregular and erratic. THE REGION COVERED The portion of the United States under consideration in this brief over­ view of southern dairying is that part from Virginia, central West Virginia, and Kentucky southward, and the states ofArkansas and Louisiana. Broadly, it includes the Upper South, the Deep South, and Florida. This region is very large and very diverse. REGIONAL COMPARISON. The Southeast obviously cannot be compared meaningfully with the American Dairy Region in milk production. During the last “complete” census year, 1964, one county in northern Wisconsin (Marathon) produced more milk than did all of Arkansas, or Alabama, or South Carolina, or West Virginia, and came within 40,000 pounds of equaling the output of Louisiana. This county and its neighbor (Clark) together produced more milk than any of the states under discussion except Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, and equalled the production of Georgia and South Carolina combined. These comparisons, not significant in themDr . Durand is professor of geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The paper was accepted for publication in May 1970. V ol. X , No. 2 29 selves, do indicate that there is at present but little surplus milk for manu­ facture, and that dairying for the urban market may well increase in regional importance with the rapid population increases of the South. REGIONAL DIVERSITY. The Southeast is as diverse in dairying as it is in most other activities. Extending from only 250 airline miles south of Lake Michigan to the subtropical Gulf Coast and the Wet-and-Dry Tropics of southern Florida, environmental conditions for the industry are quite diverse. The limestone lands of the Outer Blue Grass Basin of Kentucky; the Pennyroyal in the same state; the knob and basin countryside of the Southern Highland Rim in Tennessee; the Piney Woods of southern Missis­ sippi; and the hot, low-lying countryside near Lake Okeechobee in Florida are completely different in appearance and in environment from one another, yet all five contribute significantly to regional milk production. More northerly dairy farms in the South require shelter for cattle, storage facilities for hay, and heavy bam-feeding or lot-feeding during the winter. Southerly dairy farms require little shelter (maybe only a roof on poles, with a silo the only enclosed building), possess some grazing during the mild winter, but may have to resort to supplemental feeding during the summer. There are many kinds of grasses, native and introduced, within the South. Dairy farms at 3,600 or more feet on cool uplands are supported by northern-type pasture grasses. Some farms further south transport all feed to the cows and do not depend upon pastures. A mountain farmer may sell a very small quantity of milk daily to a crossroads receiving station, while a cor­ porate farm in South Florida may sell 21,000 or more pounds a day. And as one proceeds...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1549-6929
Print ISSN
0038-366X
Pages
pp. 28-38
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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