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MADISON – Next month, a delegation of Wisconsin farmers will travel to Albany, New York for a meeting addressing ways the struggling dairy industry can increase farm milk prices and slow the trend of dairy farm loss. Wisconsin Farmers Union is arranging transportation for farmers interested in attending the Aug. 13 meeting, which is being organized by Agri-Mark and will include dairy farmers, industry leaders, experts, policy makers and media.

The event will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Aug. 13, at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. The Wisconsin group will depart from Madison in the early morning hours on Sunday, Aug. 12 and will pick up farmers in other states en route to the meeting. The group will return on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

Farm income is expected to sink to a 12-year low this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s farm income forecast. Dairy farmers are struggling with their fourth consecutive year of milk prices being below the cost of production. Here in Wisconsin, we’ve been losing about 500 dairy farms annually — more than one each day, on average. In the first half of 2018, Wisconsin lost 338 dairy herds, according to records kept by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

“To effect the kind of change it’s going to take to turn this dairy crisis around, we’re going to need farmers and organizations from across the country to come together and work on solutions,” said Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden. “Farmers here in Wisconsin have been leading the charge with our Dairy Together movement, which seeks to rebuild a viable economy for our family farms and rural communities. We look forward to taking the energy and momentum that has been building across the Dairy State on the road, and we’re hopeful that we’ll see some concrete ideas come out of this meeting.” 

The Agri-Mark event is being billed as “Increasing Farm Milk Prices & Net Farm Income: The Impact of Farm Milk Production Decisions.” The organizers of the event note that the issues plaguing America’s dairy industry are impacting all dairy farmers, no matter their volume of milk or the location of their farm. The meeting seeks to identify action items to address immediate financial stress and year-to-year price issues. 

Topics on the agenda include supply programs from the past, on-going supply programs, demand programs, lessons from other commodities, new ideas, legislative reaction, legal concerns and committee to begin an action plan.

Farmers, media or others interested in being on the bus should contact Bobbi Wilson at 608-234-3741.

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