Wisconsin Loses Another 54 Dairy Farms in June

Wisconsin continues to lose dairy farms. ( Farm Journal )

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection reports that 54 Wisconsin dairy farms sold out in June. That’s on top of the 78 that left the business in May.

Year-to-date, 338 dairy farms stopped milking cows. Still, USDA estimates that cow numbers are down just 1,000 head from January to May (the latest report available).

The year-to-day farm exits are running about 30% higher than the same January through June farm exits in 2017. Note: The June 2018 exit number of 54 farms is six fewer in June 2017.

Submitted by Don on Thu, 08/09/2018 - 10:06

If animal numbers are relatively stable but we're losing farms, where are the cows? Is factory farming really taking over things that quickly?

Submitted by Patrick on Sat, 08/18/2018 - 11:31

Don, I am a 35yr old dairy farmer/father of 3 from Mn. I would not be able to purchase a farm without the financial help of my uncle and parents. Our "small" 250 cow dairy farm is worth approx $3million.The small family farms are closing their doors because the price of milk has remained unchanged for decades. Most small dairy farmers are 60+ and their children are unable to purchase/upgrade the farm. The only way to make a living is by quantity. Large dairies are efficient and are well prepared to increase the size of their daiy herd. When a small herd is dispersed large dairies are able to quickly add those animals to there herd.

In reply to by Don (not verified)

Submitted by Jenifer on Sat, 08/31/2019 - 14:41

I think we can agree that large farm are probably more efficient but it seem the more efficient they are the less they care about the well being of there stock and making sure they are raise in a humane way. Yes I know that animal must be slaughter but how some of these factory farm treat there animals is inexcusable. To me this is so sad for these farmers to lose everything. Most farmer are heavily in debt because the farm equipment ect. In fact I am sunrise small farmer have not come up with a way to work with each other to bring down cost. For example area farmer sharing some equipment ect as a co-op kind of setting instead of trying on there own. Basically it will probably the only way to help stay in business as farming just turns into and another industry and our food is more man made that What God has provided with healthy food. I just wish farmer stop thinking that all Democrats don't care about them because that is just not true. It make me so sad that those who have the least get punished from Trump tariffs the most and nothing more then changing a sales tax that has not been approved by any legislative component in the country like how regular taxes are determined and must be approved before doing and putting into place. I guess people just did not listen when Trump talked about things and would get them done no matter what including his tarriff. It is funny how you say the price of milk has been not changed in years and yet that is not happening when consumers have to buy at the stores. In fact I remember milk was $.04 a carton for a single serving when I was in HS back in the 90's

In reply to by Patrick (not verified)

Submitted by Olaf on Sun, 09/01/2019 - 18:43

That is actually the problem, a 250 cow dairy is not small in a historical perspective. Dairy farms are currently producing more dairy products than the market requires and are subsidized by the government to continue that practice. 60 years ago, most dairy farms had 20-40 cows, so the average of that means you forced out roughly 8 other dairy farmers to get to the size you are today. In addition, production per cow has nearly doubled. The fallacy of your argument is that when the margins are low the only alternative is to increase volume. You increase volume and the price goes down again, so what did you accomplish other than drive prices down further and force more dairies out of business.Hardly a formula for success, but more than likely a guarantee of failure. You are responsible for driving you neighboring farmers out of business by increasing cows and increasing production and you are to blame for running land prices up because of your need to produce more feedstuffs for your growing herd and disposal of the increasing amounts of waste your cattle produce. Ever hear of producing to meet market demands rather than producing for the sake of producing?

In reply to by Patrick (not verified)

Submitted by Rich Rivers on Wed, 09/04/2019 - 01:19

Maybe the price they are paying you for your milk, but it is continually rising in the stores. Sad to see the state we are in. Thank you for all your hard work.

In reply to by Patrick (not verified)

Submitted by Lisa V on Sun, 10/06/2019 - 19:38

I’m a graduate of Cal poly, 1977, double major in animal science and crop science. So much for book learning but I will say that the general consensus, even then, was agribusiness was going to take over agriculture. Big business, whether it’s one form of retail or another, run by large corporations with shareholders who want ever increasing profits… Which doesn’t fit any economic model. There was rumination back then what it would do to the middle class and small farmers… And now here we are. Unfortunately, in general, farmers sided with a party that was being dominated and manipulated by big business. Led along they were unfortunately betrayed. There is a growing population interested in quality, non-GMO, and truly organic food so I think there is a place for small farmers again if they can network within those growing markets. And then, if the older generation is willling to give up the millions their land has become valued and pass their farm on for an affordable price, there could be hope.

In reply to by Patrick (not verified)

Submitted by David Urbaniak on Thu, 10/10/2019 - 08:25

Patrick, you're exactly right. I worked with the dairy industry for seven years but you don't need that kind of background to understand the economics of production. When a dairy farmer in California says he's adding to his herd, that could mean 200 milkers. When a farmer in Wisconsin says the same thing, he could be talking about a dozen or so animals. The small family farm can't compete. Its like a small shoe store competing with Walmart just down the road. We have to be willing to pay more for some of the things we enjoy, either through direct pricing or subsidies, so that they don't disappear, because once a dairy farm closes down, its not coming back. The food supply has to be kept robust and supported so that shortages don't occur for economic reasons. Its easy to start a small business to provide many goods and services, but farming is not like that. It takes years of knowledge, background and financial commitment. Its a shame that we've been watching for years.

In reply to by Patrick (not verified)

Submitted by Paulo on Tue, 11/19/2019 - 19:44

Don, thank you for sharing. I'm sorry your industry is struggling and I hope you and your family are able to weather the storm. I was always under the impression that milk, much like gasoline, was an inelastic commodity. I understand there are a lot more competitors in the market such as soy and almond milk, however I thought the average American family has had a long sustained commitment to milk products. It is my belief that the impetus for people switching to these alternative products are for health concerns. Therefore, a shift in price for milk would not affect demand between these constituencies drastically. What am I missing?

Thank you for your time.

In reply to by Patrick (not verified)

Submitted by Douglas Street on Thu, 09/06/2018 - 16:38

Yes Don, factory farms help create the surplus, bigger and faster, thus choking off the smallest producers. It truly is a 'race to the bottom'!

In reply to by Don (not verified)

Submitted by Keith Myers on Fri, 09/07/2018 - 12:57

You bet. Each large expansion houses the same number of cows that replaces up to 100 small farms or even more.

In reply to by Don (not verified)

Submitted by Juan colon on Sun, 06/23/2019 - 18:19

More farms should be lost. They put their marbles on trump and jihadist Republicans. Now work three jobs.

In reply to by Don (not verified)

Submitted by R Kling on Fri, 03/13/2020 - 00:13

Unfortunately, Wisconsin did. support Trump
While the sign where there , that Trump doesn’t have the experience in most everything needed to be a great Leader. He made some very bad moves , and killed off a lot of deals for Farmers especially. So now you have to suffer for your bad decision.
I feel bad , and I feel bad for the cows , who will most likely be sold to factory Farms where there life’s will never be the same and they will never see green pastures again . It is terrible and I will never take in food , from stressed and abused cows ,

In reply to by Juan colon (not verified)

Submitted by Kelly on Mon, 06/24/2019 - 00:55

I highly doubt it is other family farms taking up the slack. The article does say the farms are being sold, they aren't being foreclosed on.
Maybe there are a lot of older dairy farmers ready to retire and no younger farmers available to take up the slack.

In reply to by Don (not verified)

Submitted by Ben on Fri, 06/21/2019 - 12:34

This is a multi faceted issue. I believe tlone of the bigger reasons are the push of soy and other non-dairy products, 2. the extremely low price the farmer gets per lbs butter fat weight. Makes it extremely haRd to make a living.

Submitted by BrentC on Fri, 06/21/2019 - 18:11

Maybe THIS was the plan for the Tariffs, all along.
To drive 'small' Farmers out of the marketplace, so the 'Big Farming Conglomerates' could gobble up their farms/businesses and corner the food industry market.
NO competition, No price caps, NO limits for Profits!

Submitted by Kevin on Sun, 06/23/2019 - 08:15

The small farms are being regulated out of existence. The large “factory” farms are the only ones that can bear the costs. Such is the cost of Federal oversight of all aspects of our lives.

Submitted by Ron Williams on Sat, 06/29/2019 - 18:12

If you mean "being regulated out of business", means these farms must follow sanitation rules and guidelines, feed the herd decent feed, and don't fill them with drugs then that's fine with me. If they can't produce a decent product without cheating and abusing the animals and filling them with drugs then they don't belong in business.

In reply to by Kevin (not verified)

Submitted by rhkennerly on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 06:43

I hear this complaint all the time, but never see examples listed.

In reply to by Kevin (not verified)

Submitted by Kim on Sun, 06/23/2019 - 08:52

You really think these are any different than factory farms?

Submitted by Jim on Mon, 06/24/2019 - 04:11

Same thing going on in Australia, except our industry is trying to paint a Rosey picture..
The real worry is where will any rural jobs come from, there’s already a huge drug problem in regional areas due to the feeling of hopelessness, I guess when food starts running low some political weight may have enough resources to change the course of economic stupidity

Submitted by Tara Mercer on Thu, 06/27/2019 - 15:27

The economic has to stey in and do something about it