Missouri Dairy Business Update Commercial Agriculture
Volume 4, Number 1
January 2004

1890 Outlook for Missouri's Dairy Industry

To get some perspective on today dairy industry it is fun sometimes at the beginning of a new year to look back at what history tells us that our forefathers were thinking about their own future in the dairy industry in Missouri. The following is taken from the "1890-91 23rd Annual Report of the State Board of Agriculture, State of Missouri."

Organizing a State Dairymen's Association

A preliminary organization of a State Dairymen's Association was effected, the first annual meeting being held January 15-16, 1891 in Jefferson City.

This association will take an active part in showing up the adaptability of the state for dairy purposes if it be give a chance. Considering its geographical situation, climate, soil and accessibility to market, Missouri is beyond compare the first state in the Union for dairying, and with seventy five (75) butter and cheese factories in operation in the state, and many private dairymen who are producing as fine goods as can be found in the market, it does not seem impossible to so organize and develop the industry between now and 1893 that the state shall be creditably represented in this line.

The room there is for developing our dairy interest is indicated by the simple statement that while we have seventy five (75) butter and cheese factories in operation, the neighboring state of Iowa has five hundred (500).

Farmers Institute, Franklin County: New Haven, Missouri December 31, 1890

Mr. J. Y. Sawyer, of Illinois, was the first speaker. Discussing the subject of dairying, he spoke of two objections that were made against the business. "It is too confining," some say; "they don't want to be tied to a cow's tail for 365 days in a year." But that is better than to have a millstone in the shape of a mortgage tied to one's neck. Others say, dairying doesn't pay. That depends on what we expect. If a cow gives about 3,000 pounds of milk a year, that is only enough to meet the cost of keeping and there is no profit; but if by feeding and caring for her better, the yield is increased to 4,000 pounds, there will be a profit."

Farmers Institute, Laclede County, Lebanon, Missouri, January 5, 1891

"J. Y. Sawyer of Chicago read a very interesting paper on "Dairying in Southwest Missouri." He discussed the subject in a practical way, and spoke in glowing terms of Southwest Missouri for dairying. He said there was no finer dairy country anywhere."

Farmers Institute, Cass County, Belton, Missouri, January 12, 1891

Mr. Erwin opened the subject in hand by saying: "This is the age of specialties." Special lines of business, he thought, paid best. Farming and dairying naturally went together because cows must be fed and feed must be grown on farms."

Farmer's Institute, Tipton, Missouri

Prices for butter and cheese have been declining year by year, until it has become a serious question with many as to whether the business can be profitably prosecuted under the present adverse circumstances. Judge H. Brown.

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