Wisconsin Organic Milk Producers Getting Squeezed by Mega-sized Farms

Rick Barrett reported last week at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online that, “You’re in the dairy state. You go to the store and buy some organic milk. You have this image of a small farm somewhere in rural Wisconsin, maybe one of those cool little towns in the Kickapoo Valley.

But it could be from a big farm. A really big farm. In Texas.

“Yes, Texas.

Wisconsin’s organic dairy farmers are getting squeezed by mega-sized farms that may have more than 100 times as many cows. And while some in Wisconsin claim their oversized brethren aren’t playing by the rules, for the most part, government regulators have dismissed the complaints.”

Mr. Barrett noted, “But as the organic market has become saturated, with milk from some very large farms flowing across state lines, some farmers say they’ve lost about 30% of the price they received a couple years ago.

“‘That’s right off the top, even as our expenses continue to go up,’ said Jim Goodman, an organic dairy farmer in Wonewoc, about 70 miles northwest of Madison. ‘The growth is in the big farms, like in Texas. You don’t see a lot of small organic dairy farms starting up these days.’

“He and other Wisconsin dairy farmers say the big operations aren’t following the USDA rules that call for a minimum amount of grazing for organic cows and for the use of certified organic grain.”

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