What Is The Governor and the President Doing to Save WI. Family Farms?

This story hits very close to home for me. I grew up on what had been my grandfather’s farm in Pewaukee. My uncle farmed it for a while before he started renting it to the neighbor up the road. Two other uncles and several cousins were dairy farmers. Another uncle owned the local farm and garden store. I helped make hay, mend fences, feed the heifers and fill silo in my youth. The continued loss of family farms saddens me in ways that I would never have anticipated. Even though 50 years ago I knew that I personally didn’t want to farm.

But the story around 75 small dairy farms who have lost their market dairy and who may have to close and sell their herds if they don’t find a new market by May 1st is incredibly sad. That isn’t far away. And there has been a lot of coverage in the media about the initial cause being a change in the market rules in Canada and its made worse by a glut of milk in the market place. Wisconsin legislators in Washington have asked the Trump regime to look into Canada’s market. Even if that occurs it will take longer than the time needed to save this handful of farms. And that’s a real shame.

It’s these small farms that are the backbone of Wisconsin agriculture. Not the factory farms that Governor Walker and the GOP legislature are so set on protecting. As a matter of fact, closing down one of those offal factories would open the market for all of these 75 farms. And as the farm to plate movement and the organic markets grow it is these small family farms that can most easily adapt and be suppliers on all of those fronts. The factory farm ain’t the answer to those movements.

So being closer to the action…where exactly does Governor Walker and Speaker Vos stand on maintaining the family farm in Wisconsin. I have heard nary a peep out of Madison. If any of our readers have seen articles from any of that cohort, please share them in the comments below.

Agriculture is still a major industry in Wisconsin. It is still a driving source in our economy. It needs to be encouraged, nurtured, and supported if Wisconsin is truly open for business. And yes I realize the family farm is going to be bigger than it is now and has been in the past. When I was a kid most of the farms around me had 30 or 40 head of milk cows and a few started moving up to 100 and that was amazing. Now those 100/150 cow farms are the small family farms.

Here is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article that sparked this tirade. It appeared on the front page of the Sunday April 16, 2017 edition of the paper. One of the brief mentions in this article is a glut of cheap milk flooding the Wisconsin market. I guess my question is how can Michigan milk be that much cheaper than locally produced milk.

Related JSONline’s editorial:

And my previous article on President Trump and NAFTA


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2 thoughts on “What Is The Governor and the President Doing to Save WI. Family Farms?

  1. I don’t know if it’s still true, but it used to be that milk production received higher subsidy the further it was from Eau Claire. It also may be true that MI has done more for their small farmers than has WI, particularly since Walker took office. The success of the Democratic Party was built on the coalition of farm and labor, both of which broke down largely due to white anger over support of minority rights to their own detriment. Those weren’t suburban repubs throwing bottles at Father Groppi marchers and perhaps those 75 farmers that are on the brink of losing everything are progressives but I tend to doubt it. That farm-labor concern, already quasi-socialist in their reliance on cooperatives and unions, ignored that their existence relied on the social compact forged by dems over the truculence of repubs, sold out to those who put investors ahead of people and are now shocked that their farms and jobs are nothing more than collateral damage to the corporate bottom line. I do have sympathy but it’s their own damn fault. They elected the fox to run the chicken coop.

  2. Those in the know have Grasslands displacing 75 smaller milk suppliers because they have purchased their own CAFO operation of approximately 7200 cows. Milk testing and reporting, required quality control record keeping are all in-house and less cumbersome to a single operation. Blaming their move on the Canadians is highly questionable news reporting, apparently relying on Grassland’s public relations.

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