Could we be doing more for Wisconsin’s dairy industry?

Wisconsin State Farmer

Wisconsin’s dairy industry has been hit hard and is not stabilizing with the current efforts to maintain and lift the industry. We need to step in and help our farmers while we await the government's long-term resolution.

One possible solution is to implement a quota in the dairy industry. Megafarms, though not all are surviving the crisis, have a high efficiency in production. This leads to overproduction, which in turn drives prices down causing farmers to have production costs higher than income. Implementing a quota would drive supply closer to demand and help minimize the price oppression farmers are facing.

President Trump has implemented a three-step plan to help U.S. farmers, but Wisconsin is still losing more than one farm per day. The $12 billion dollars taken from the U.S. treasury to aid farmers, has not been enough to help the financial burden squeezing small and large farming businesses.

The second step in the plan, to purchase surplus goods from farmers, provides minimal relief due to the low cost on dairy products in relation to high production costs. Farmers are still losing thousands of dollars. The ultimate step, to help farmers develop new export markets, is not being implemented fast enough for the temporary solutions to be effective.

Trump has begun the last step in the plan, by working with the EU (European Union) to improve trading relations and reduce tariffs with Europe. However, Trump needs to extend himself to Canada to truly help the dairy industry. A major hit to dairy farmers was the increase on tariffs when trading with Canada. Milk exports to Canada dropped dramatically and are the main cause to our fall in demand.

In retrospect, overproduction is causing a surplus in the supply, which combined is driving prices too low. While we await Trump's solution to be carried out, Wisconsin needs to take action to keep our farmers afloat.

Our newly elected Governor, Tony Evers, has a major decision to make in appointing a new agriculture secretary. Because Evers does not have experience in dealing with the agriculture industry, it is especially crucial for him to find someone that will be able to take the necessary steps to save our dairy industry, or it will not survive until Trump completes the third step in the plan. 

Elsie Atkinson, Greenleaf, Wis.