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Wisconsin Dairy Farms Struggle To Stay Afloat

Barn and silo

The state has seen a 49 percent decrease in the number of dairy farms in the past 15 years, down to around 8,00 farms in 2019 from nearly 16,000 farms in 2004. (William Garrett/flickr)

Curds, colby, and Cheeseheads. Wisconsin and the dairy industry have long been synonymous, but a stunning increase in dairy farm closures may soon change that.

Trade wars, rock-bottom milk prices, and increased costs in farm equipment have hit dairy farmers hard in the past few years. Though milk prices went up this year, for many, the reprieve was too little, too late. 

In the past year, 48 Wisconsin dairy farmers filed Chapter 12 farm bankruptcy filings - the most in the country. 

“Wisconsin is attributed as the No. 1 bankruptcy in the nation right now, when it comes to dairy farmers,” said Patty Edelburg, vice president of the National Farmers Union, to Yahoo Finance. 

“That number is up, I think, 24% from last year already,” Edelburg added. “We’re losing two farms a day.”

The state has seen a 49 percent decrease in the number of dairy farms in the past 15 years, down to around 8,00 farms in 2019 from nearly 16,000 farms in 2004.

Along with record farm closures, a record 915 suicides were reported in Wisconsin in 2017. While exact numbers of farmer suicides aren’t clear, many suspect the parallel increases are linked. 

A 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control said farmers are committing suicide at twice the rate of veterans. 

Read More:
‘Losing two farms a day’: Wisconsin is facing a serious dairy crisis (Yahoo Finance)
Farm Bankruptcies Rise Again (Farm Bureau
Wisconsin dairy farmers are struggling to stay afloat (PBS NewsHour)
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