Update: Wisconsin losing hundreds of dairy farms - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Update: Wisconsin losing hundreds of dairy farms

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UPDATE (WKOW) -- "America's Dairyland" is losing more farms, according to a new federal report. Nearly 400 dairy farms in Wisconsin have closed within the last year. 

 But has Mesa Dairy in Watertown, business is still going. 

"We start milking at 6 a.m. and we usually finish up around 8:30 or 9:00 at night," said dairy farmer Carrie Mess. 

On this farm, it's a family affair. Even Mess's young boy can be seen hanging out with mom and dad on the farm. 

"We're the average Wisconsin dairy farm. We just keep plugging along," Mess said. 

Plugging along because the dairy industry in Wisconsin is hurting due to falling milk prices. 

"For about the last year, we're just breaking even or every day it's costing us money to be in business," she added.

However, Mess says cows on her farm will stay put, but she's already seen two nearby neighbors who have completely shut down their milk operations. They are a part of the hundreds of farmers who have done the same since 2015. Currently, there are a little more than 9,400 dairy herds in the state. Those numbers are down 4% from last year. 

Mess believes the closures are also personal decisions. 

"The average farmer is 58-years-old. It's a hard job," she explained. "It's 365 days a year, all day, every day. There's not a lot of younger generations that want to come back and farm."

For Mess, every dairy farm closure is a personal heartache. 

"It's sad to walk in the barn and see empty stalls. It really is. It hurts my heart to see that," she said. 

But with her little boy in hand as she opens the gates to move some of her cows, she still remains optimistic. 

"You have to be hopeful if you're a farmer," Mess added. 

Hopeful that the sun won't set on their operations before better days come. 

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MADISON (AP) -- A report from the federal Agriculture Department shows that Wisconsin lost almost 400 dairy farms in the last year, though one official says the news isn't all that bad.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that about 94,000 dairy herds were active in the state as of Oct. 1 -- 4 percent less than in 2015.

Wisconsin Dairy Business Association President Gordon Speirs says the number of lost farms this year is low compared to previous years, when annual losses reached as high as 1,000. He says that's "a real victory for our industry" given low milk prices in the past year and a half.

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