Wisconsin dairy farmers face spoiling market, tight deadline

Posted April 30, 2017

Gov. Scott Walker says he spoke with President Donald Trump about the almost 40 Wisconsin dairy farmers desperately seeking help after being dropped by their milk buyer following a Canadian policy change. Earlier this month, her farm was working with Dairy Farmers of America to buy their milk, but the price being offered wasn't as high. Even before this export problem, farmers have been producing tons and tons of milk, leading to a collapse of prices, leading to more production to try to make it up on volume, leading to yet lower prices.

Sarah Lloyd and Nels Nelson, who tend 350 dairy cows on a 400-hectare property northwest of Madison, say their view is that Trump's got it all wrong. After their sole milk buyer, Grassland Dairy, dropped them due to changes in Canadian policy that decreased the demand for US milk.

Margaret Hart, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said Tuesday Grassland has since agreed to continue buying milk from all the Minnesota farms affected. Nevertheless, trade in these products between the USA and Canada is meaningful. It could do nothing and blame the competition and/or the strength of the USA dollar and watch US dairy farms disappear (which would be inadvisable as the industry is a vital and integral part of the economy).

These products are "the barometer for what's going on in world markets", said Ben Laine, an economist at CoBank Acb.

"Compared to where we were a week ago, I'm relieved", Navis said.

Canadian officials have blamed global dairy overproduction, not Canadian policies, for American dairy farmers' woes. "It's a disgrace", Trump told reporters in the Oval Office last week.

Up to now, Trump's harshest criticisms of NAFTA have focused on Mexico, but in the past few days the president has shifted his sights to accuse Canada of harming United States farmers and milk producers.

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Powder is moving south to Mexico, where drought has taken a toll on milk output, but political tensions keep those exports under suspicion.

We see our boards to be a natural, effective model to protect our farmers.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) must be replaced with a transparent trade agreement that ensures three things: farmers receive fair prices for their production; consumers are guaranteed the right to know the content and origin of their food; and strong environmental protections are put in place to protect the sustainability of rural communities. "We are trying to get processors to each take five farms and that way some will have a home and not overload one or two processors out there", she said. They're a cooperative with more than 13,000 members in 48 states. Therefore, we hope Trump proceeds carefully, in close consultation with others in the USA federal and state governments.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Trump's response has been important for helping the farmers. Everyone thinks of Canada as being wonderful, and so do I.

Jennifer and Shane Sauer, owners of Sauers Dairy Farm, N491 Youker Road, Waterloo, are hoping to resolve the issue of where to ship their cows' milk prior to the May 1 deadline.

Instead of constantly increasing production, dairy farms would be better off making sure there's a market for their products first, said Darin Von Ruden, president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.