This milk market mess came to the public’s attention when Grassland Dairy Products, Greenwood, Wis., dropped a large number of its farmer suppliers because Grassland said Canada had stopped buying some Grassland milk exports. Our dairy industry immediately blamed Canada for all of our problems.
However, our disastrous overproduction and destructive low price are of our own doing.
Canada has a supply management system for its dairy industry. Canadian farmers receive almost twice the payments for their milk as Wisconsin farmers. Their consumers have a steady price and a reliable supply, and no huge glut that injures their dairy industry.
We believe there are three main reasons for this mess.
First, our Wisconsin Legislature has encouraged, promoted and given tax breaks to factory-type dairies, causing a huge surplus.
Second, dairy farmers have not supported any quota plan or production restraint.
Third, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ag Secretary Ben Brancel have been bragging about a wonderful dairy program called 30x20. They have encouraged, promoted and subscribed the dairy industry to grow to 30 billion pounds of milk by 2020. Their wish has been achieved, and what chaos we now have!
How can we blame Canada? Didn’t President Trump say, “America first?” Can you blame Prime Minister Trudeau for saying, “Canada first?”
We are dairy farmers in Wisconsin. We have felt for years that family agriculture should follow a supply management system, especially if we hope to continue a dairy industry that will encourage and give a sustainable future for our young dairy farmers.
Anita and Donald Nelson
Wisconsin Dells, Wis.