State grant helps dairy farmers - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

State grant helps dairy farmers

by Cami Mountain

MEDFORD (WAOW) -- A new state grant is helping Wisconsin take back it's title as the "Dairy State". 

For a few years now, Wisconsin has come in second to California in terms of milk production.  State leaders say that can't happen anymore.   So they're giving a certain kind of dairy farmer some help.

We've all heard the commercials on TV-- "Happy cows come from California."  But Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle wants that to stop.

"It's just not true and they outta quite saying it pretty soon. Happy cows are in Wisconsin. Our cows are producing more milk these days and California's are going in the other direction."

That's why he's granting nearly 1 million dollars to Wisconsin dairy farmers that use a process called grazing.  Like the Kluessendorf family, outside of Medford.  They started milking 5 years ago on a rented farm.

Sherry Kluessendorf says, "When we started, we started with two vehicles about 1,000 dollars."

Now, they own about 250 acres of land and 120 dairy cattle.  They say grazing their herd got them where they are today.

Kluessendorf says, "I don't think we'd be farming if it weren't for grazing. The input costs are way too high to start a farm, a conventional farm anymore."

Governor Doyle says, "It's important because we can get young farmers out on the farm. They don't have to make that huge capitol investment to start a dairy."

The Kluessendorfs say grazing is cheaper because cows eat the grass that's already there and it's easier.

Kluessendorf says, "We basically just milk them and kick them back out and let them eat until their hearts desire."

Governor Doyle says the 'Grazing Lands and Conservation Initiative Grant'  is helping dairy farmers because grazing is good for the state of Wisconsin.  It's low cost and environmentally friendly.  Cows that eat grass are considered organic.

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