To the editor:
This milk market mess came to the public’s attention when a milk plant, Grassland Dairy Products of Greenwood, dropped a large number of their farmer suppliers because they said Canada had stopped buying some of their milk exports. Of course our dairy industry immediately blamed Canada for all of our problems. This is not true. Our disastrous overproduction and destructive low price is of our own doing.
Canada has a supply management system for its dairy industry. Their farmers receive almost twice the payment for their milk than do the farmers here in Wisconsin. Their consumers have a steady price and a reliable supply and no huge glut which injures their dairy industry.
I believe there are three main things causing this mess:
The first is that our Wisconsin Legislature has encouraged, promoted and given tax breaks to factory-type dairies, causing a huge surplus.
Secondly, the dairy farmers themselves have not supported any type of quota plan or production restraint. This system may be great for agribusiness, but it sure doesn’t help the family farmer.
The third reason for this dilemma is, sad to say, our own Gov. Scott Walker and Ben Brancel, our ag secretary. They 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 in Wisconsin by 2020. Their wish has now been achieved and what chaos we now have.
How can we blame Canada? Didn’t President Donald Trump say, “America first”? Can you blame Canadian Prime Minister Justin Tudeau for saying, “Canada first”?
I and my family are dairy farmers in Wisconsin. We have for years felt 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 P. Nelson