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What is being done to solve the dairy problem?

The Illinois Dairy Industry is ranked 22nd in the United States for dairy production. The state has 84,000 cows on 553 farms. Average herd size for Illinois dairy farms is 90 cows. Six to seven farms are going out of business daily. Illinois lost 10,000 head so far in 2019. I got my information from the Illinois AgriNews article on July 11, 2019, and Google.

Wisconsin Dairy Industry is ranked second in the U.S. for dairy according to the computer site Home Wisconsin in 2019. Wisconsin has a state herd of 1.2 million cows. The average herd size is 166 cows. Wisconsin lost 449 farms, down 50,000 head. My research source is dairyherd.com.

The causes of Wisconsin dairy problems include decreasing milk value, higher cost to feed for cows and other supplies. Many small dairy farms in Wisconsin have exhausted their savings and extended credit on loans. Overproduction of milk due to improved genetics, better herd nutrition, foreign markets, global tariffs, federal rules and market boards can also make or break many small farms in Wisconsin, according to Agriview (June 2019). To date, La Salle County has two dairy farms, Bureau County has one, Putnam County has none and Marshall County has two.

What is being done to solve this problem? Many small dairy farms have sold their herds. Some of these herds are added to bigger farms by auction. Others are sold for slaughter. According to Farm Journal, the Farm Service Agency has begun paying dairy farmers Dairy Margin Coverage payments for the period of January through May. The University of Wisconsin at Platteville has a dairy innovation hub to come up with different ways to use milk,

In conclusion, we need drastic changes such as research at the university level to find ways and uses for milk instead of focusing on producing more milk. There is strong drive for research to find ways to make manure digesters for small and medium size farms to separate methane from manure for electricity. Agritourism, such as on-farm cheese factories, bottling plants and farmstead stores could be worthwhile options. We need to take measures to protect our future.

Craig Arbet, Dalzell

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