Readers Respond: Who’s to Blame for the Dairy Crisis?

( Alison Fulton )

In a recent commentary Editor Emeritus Jim Dickrell explored the many possible villains in dairy’s tragic past. From sexed semen and immigrant labor to Canada’s Class 7 program, China, Mexico, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, he gave a nod to the most common culprits. Read the complete commentary at Also weighing in were readers, who took a moment to point a few fingers. Here’s what they said: 

What’s Dickrell’s take? “In the end, it is safe to say there is no one villain who is culpable for the dairy crisis. It’s also safe to say there is no one solution.”

Share your thoughts at 

Submitted by Jim Weeber on Thu, 06/13/2019 - 09:03

I think the dairy problem started in the 70’s. During my time as a student at a land grant university the push for bigger bigger bigger was on. The industry as a whole lead the charge with plans how you could borrow most of the capital for new operations and be paid out in 10 years or less. We did field trips to a couple such operations 100-200 cows. One with very cool astro turf in the herringbone milking parlor and new everything including 2 silos. They were 4 years ahead of their 10 year pay out plan projecting to be no debt in 6 years. How many do the “experts” want you to milk now to be “profitable.”
Well it all got bigger requiring more volume to pay off the equipment including the shiny new paint in the fields growing the feed. Now it is so big when margins get close or go negative generated by all this “how much can we produce technology” problems become gargantuan. Hunkering down till next year as our own farm did a couple times becomes nearly impossible while satisfying the interests now involved in ”family farms.” Fact is historically dairy farms were the strongest of farms and most steady with income staying in a predictable profitable range. What has been done to destroy past success? Dairy farms produced top drawer human offspring too who usually went on to do good things for society on and off the farm. Less dairy farms yields less of those offspring to make great contributions to society.
We’ve all been lured down a path by agri business, marketers, and delusions of granger to reach further than we can grasp and now the problems ensue. Sad to say in the end supply and demand will rule. Survival of the fittest and last man standing will prevail. Maybe producers want to be ruled by government or the marketers who have very much a buyers market as a result of the changes to the “family farm.” The landscape generated is the result of agricultural soothsayers on their nice chairs promoting “more more more, bigger bigger bigger.” Like my dad told me after I got out of Purdue; “The guys on the leather chairs have weekends off. You don’t. How much of your work do you want to give them?” My answer was not very much.
We are pretty far down the path now with many operations having trouble with payments and lending arrangements. Recovery of depreciation on latest greatest tech, equipment and infrastructure is not even a thought as dairyman attend to slaying the dragon at hand on a given day.
Would be nice to see a return to time proven successful practices rather than everything being an experiment for someone else’s gain besides the man doing the work. We were way better off when a man did enough to support his family well and the neighbor down the road a ways was doing the same thing. Regulatory agencies including EPA were not near as interested in farming either.
Be aware as some of my friends are of these thoughts as some kind of reorganization visits agricultural endeavors and what you want to participate in as the future comes to pass.

Submitted by Gerardo Madrid on Fri, 06/14/2019 - 12:35

The problem is the increase of farms bigger than 1000 cows