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Record percentage of Wisconsin dairy farms go out of business in 2018

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“America’s Dairyland” lost a record percentage of dairy farms in 2018, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

Data shows 638 dairy farms went out of business this year.

“We have too much supply on the market, and it out weighs the amount of demand that we have,” said Heather Schlesser, UW Extension Marathon County Dairy Agent.

It’s a trend farmer, Ryan Prahl, knows is souring Wisconsin’s dairy industry.

“When milk prices are good, what does a guy do? He adds more cows,” Prahl said. “When milk prices are bad we add more cows to make more milk because we’ve got to make money.”

Experts say, the over supply is partly driven by the farmers themselves, who have become so efficient at producing milk.

“We’re kind of our worst enemy at some times. We’re good at what we do and that’s kind of the downfall,” Prahl said.

He’s the fifth generation owner of Granite VU Farm in Wausau. It’s one of 8,163 left in the state.

“It’s happening across the United States. The issue is that in Wisconsin the main agricultural industry is dairy,” Schlesser said.

She said tariffs are also impacting the dairy industry. However, the bigger issue is over supply.


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