WI Dairy Business Association shares letter

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For those of you in Wisconsin, the Dairy Business Association encourages you to share this message with your local paper in light of recent Wisconsin dairy farm stories. For those of you in other states, what do you think of this message:
In a few weeks, Wisconsin will celebrate its 166th anniversary of statehood. A land rich and diverse in resources and opportunities, the new state of Wisconsin attracted immigrants and transplanted Americans who built thriving communities around logging, mining and agriculture.
Today, agriculture remains the powerful engine that drives Wisconsin's economy with the dairy industry leading the way at an impressive $26.5 billion a year. Dairy farming - and the commitment to the hard work it requires - defined this state as America's Dairyland, an identity and culture that still ring true to this day.
However, like most things, the Wisconsin dairy farm of a generation or two ago has changed. To begin with, we have lost 130,000 dairy farms over the last 50 years. Of the 10,860 that remain, nearly all are small- to moderate-sized, family-run dairy farms with only 235 dairies across the state designated as large operations. But whether it is a 150-cow farm near Sparta or a 2,500-head dairy south of Sheboygan, they all have something in common - they operate more effectively and accountably than ever before.
For starters, computerized recordkeeping, innovative milking technology and scientific advancements in genetics have vastly improved efficiency and productivity. In addition, we now see greater attention given to the care and well-being of Wisconsin dairy cows and calves and an increased emphasis on training programs and clearly-defined protocols for the men and women who work on our farms.
And thanks to research at our state universities, the largest dairies in our state now implement state-of-the-art manure management systems that better utilize manure as a natural and valuable by-product our cows provide while safely protecting Wisconsin's environment and water supplies.
Today, Wisconsin's largest dairy producers are committed and compliant to some of the most stringent environmental guidelines in the United States serving as a testament to their support of our state's high standards for water quality and manure management.
Producers understand that some Wisconsinites may have concerns about the dairy industry and our environment. It is of equal importance to producers and their families as it is to you and your family - no difference. The Wisconsin dairy industry understands the trust that you have placed in us and our obligation to maintain that trust.
Much has been written and politicized lately about Wisconsin's dairy farmers. These accounts have often been long on rhetoric and short on facts. Wisconsin's future as America's Dairyland is too important to allow those with agendas to distort the discussion with emotion rather than clarify it with scientific-based information and to instill worry rather than share knowledge.
For more than 100 years, Wisconsin has been an international leader in dairy production. Today, we are meeting the food needs of a growing global population while setting new industry standards in the areas of environmental stewardship, technology and animal care - bringing added value to America's New Dairyland.

Source: Dairy Business Association



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