The steady, downward trend of Wisconsin’s milk production poses an insidious danger to the future of the state’s industry, according to a report released last week by the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW).

“We’ve been hearing bits and pieces of what’s going on with Wisconsin’s dairy industry, and as a board, PDPW decided to dive in deeper and find out more,” explains Shelly Mayer, PDPW operations manager. “And, we discovered by looking at trends that we’re losing cows and milk production. The cows are going to other areas, and our production isn’t keeping pace with other players in the industry.”

If the production reduction isn’t reversed, says the “2001 Analysis of Conditions and Trends Impacting Milk Producers in America’s Dairyland,” the state’s 18,000 dairy farm families and dairy infrastructure could suffer catastrophic consequences. “Bottom line,” warns the analysis, “ Wisconsin dairy farm families must grow their operations if they want to remain in business, improve annual milk sales and market share, properly leverage the net worth of their balance sheets and ensure the state’s infrastructure remains intact to serve their farms’ needs.”

As a result of these findings, there are four key messages PDPW believes Wisconsin farmers must heed:

  • The continual erosion of Wisconsin milk production will negatively impact individual producer profitability. With the loss of production comes the loss of infrastructure to support the remaining producers.
  • The dairy industry is a growth market on a national basis and, in order to participate and profit from that growth, state producers must grow their businesses to capture their share.
  • Wisconsin has a large pool of skilled, talented people who can help reverse the trend and producers can benefit their businesses by tapping into these skills and talents.
  • The future of the state’s industry is the responsibility of the people in it. PDPW maintains it does not want governmental laws and rules that divide the state’s dairy industry by size, not does the organization rely solely on the government for solutions to the industry’s challenges.

“When we looked at this information in terms of ‘What does it mean for an individual producer?’” notes Mayer, “it became clear that the loss in milk production directly impacts our infrastructure, which, in turn, affects individual producers. It wasn’t black-and-white, like the effect of milk prices.

“However, we also discovered that Wisconsin is better positioned to respond to this challenge than many other states,” Mayer adds. “We have a critical mass, we have the experts and we still have diversity among our farms. The main point of the report is that every business, regardless of whether it’s a dairy operation or a shoe store, must grow their business if we’re going to keep up with the cost of inflation.”

For the complete report, go to: