Stories

Wisconsin dairy farms are shuttering at an unprecedented rate

Wisconsin cows walk from the barn after being milked.
Wisconsin cows walk from the barn after being milked. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Wisconsin lost almost 700 dairy farms in 2018, which amounted to nearly two per day, Rick Barrett of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Why it matters: "Much of Wisconsin's $88 billion farm economy hangs in the balance. Hundreds of towns across the state depend on the money that dairy farmers spend at equipment dealerships, feed mills, hardware stores, cafes."

  • Farm milk prices are nearing their lowest mark in 50 years, and many small farms can't manage.
  • Overproduction and failing export markets since 2014 have wiped out dairy farms across the U.S. 
  • Wisconsin has 8,000 dairy herds — down 40% from 10 years ago.

Be smart: Wisconsin is one of the heartland states that put President Trump over the top in 2016; midterm results show he could easily lose America's Dairyland this time. Weakness in the state's signature sector won't help.

Go deeper: Farmer bankruptcies swell to decade high in Farm Belt