Dairy farmer Steve Wolfe says Nebraska has about two-thirds of the number of dairy cows today that it had two decades ago thanks to high prices and stagnant growth.
"Finding sites is definitely one of the biggest hold ups, there just doesn't seem to be a lot of available sites, there doesn't seem to be a lot of sites where the area neighbors are willing to maybe let a dairy come in," says Wolfe, who owns a 500 head Holstein operation called Wolfden Dairy with his brother south of Kearney.
Wolfe says high transportation costs hurt too, and as smaller farms go out of business, local processors are leaving since there's not enough milk supply.
Farm Bill talks are starting again in Congress, and dairy price policies that will expire without a new bill have some experts predicting skyrocketing costs for consumers. No new Farm Bill means farm law set in the 1940's goes back into effect, something that could make the government pay much more to buy dairy products. Some experts think that would cause processors to sell to the government instead of commercially, which could reduce supplies, and send prices at the grocery store up.
Wolfe says a Farm Bill needs to help his business as well as the grocery shopper.
"The problem we have is our input costs can really rise tremendously so we would like to see a margin program that would also have a supply program," says Wolfe.
Wolfe says the margin insurance would protect his farm, but the supply program would curb overproduction and control supply and demand.
But how likely is a Farm Bill before 2014? Senator Mike Johanns says he's optimistic about the current talks because any new Farm Bill will save billions of dollars.
"There's kind of a back channel story brewing here that if you can get a Farm Bill it will assist getting a budget agreement and that puts pressure on the conferees to get a Farm Bill done," says Johanns.
Johanns says he's still pushing for a five-year bill and not another extension.
"For us to continue in America to have good food prices we're going to have to have some stabilization programs and some kind of insurance programs to make sure that agriculture can stay in business," says Wolfe.