Dairyman discusses business

By Tonya Fennell

By Tonya Fennell

Albin Smith is a local dairy owner.

Q: How long have you been in the dairy business?
A: I came to Portales 30 years ago this month with 28 cows.

Q: What does the dairy business mean to you?
A: I like the cows, but I have come to love the challenge of the dairy business. It is a 24-hour facility. Those hours are required for a dairy to be efficient. 2006 has been a really rotten year. 2005 was an okay year because of very good weather so the cows gave a lot of milk. So, now there is 3 percent too much milk in the nation.
We are a family business. It (dairy business) makes a living for me, my brother, son and son-in-law as well as 25 other families.

Q: Do dairies have a negative effect on groundwater?
A: No, compared to what other uses we have in agriculture. Every dairy is heavily regulated by the State Engineer – water company.

Q: Do dairies contribute to nitrates in the groundwater?
A: Dairies are often targeted, but you can drill a well anywhere and find traces of nitrates and phosphates.

Q: What effect do dairies have on the local economy?
A: New Mexico is number seven in the nation for milk production. There are currently 65 dairies locally in Roosevelt and Curry counties. Each one employs 25 people. This area was built around the railroad and military but the dairy industry has had a positive impact on the economy over the last 10 years.

Q: What would you like the community to know about the dairy business?
A: I want to declare we are very good stewards of the land and tenders of the animals. We have a staff of guys who are trained in animal health and a veterinarian. New Mexico is a great place for dairies because of the arid climate. The cows are comfortable here.

Q: How do you feel about the product you sell?
A: We produce 16,000 gallons (of milk) a day and it’s shipped throughout the nation. It is often shipped to milk-deficient places like Florida because there aren’t a lot of cows there because of the climate.
I drink milk every day. Milk is a good source of calcium and nutrients.
The milk New Mexico produces is used for many dairy products including pasteurized milk and cheese. The milk I sell to DairyConcepts is used to make powdered milk, which is used in food products such as cake mixes.

Q: Has the opening of Southwest Cheese impacted your business?
A: It (Southwest Cheese) will benefit us in the long run because it saves on transportation costs. Right now the majority of our milk goes to Southwest Cheese or DairyConcepts in Portales.