Jonny Hunter (CC BY 2.0)

Series: The Dairy State Economy

Dairy is iconic in Wisconsin, with the production of milk and cheese a longstanding foundation of the state's identity and global reputation. This industry is a significant component of Wisconsin's economy, dependent on the fluctuations of international markets and tastes of consumers, with each affecting the livelihoods of farmers and their employees. Meanwhile, the structure of the business is changing, with the number of farms decreasing as their average size is increasing. Around Wisconsin, the direction of the dairy industry will define the future for producers and communities.
 
Shared via
WPT
Facing low commodity prices, trade uncertainties and challenging weather, Wisconsin's farmers are struggling on multiple fronts. U.S. and state agriculture secretaries Sonny Perdue and Brad Pfaff share their perspectives on the state of small dairy farms and the industry as a whole.
Audio: 
Shared via
WPR
Wisconsin has the highest number of dairy goats in the United States. WisContext associate editor Will Cushman discusses these numbers and explains how the dairy goat industry took shape and expanded in America's Dairyland.
Wisconsin's self-proclaimed moniker as "America's Dairyland" is taking on fresh meaning in the 21st century thanks to a growing market for milk from an animal that bleats rather than moos.
Technological changes — electricity and mechanization — in the mid-20th century would revolutionize the practice and business of agriculture in Wisconsin, and set into motion economic and demographic changes that continue well into the 21st century.
Wisconsin's agricultural bounty is possible thanks in part to the state's voluminous supply of freshwater. At the same time, the use of this resource to grow crops and nourish livestock poses risks to the quality of these waters.
Shared via
WPT
The Wisconsin Legislature voted to postpone a proposal to increase fees on concentrated animal feeding operations. Wisconsin Dairy Alliance president Cindy Leitner and Wisconsin's Green Fire executive director Fred Clark discuss the scope of the proposal.
The United States Department of Agriculture census documents a large and diverse farming economy in Wisconsin, but also one in flux.
Stagnant milk and crop prices are causing farmers to seek out new sources of revenue. Some farmers who are renting their land to put down solar panels in an effort to turn a profit.
WisContext reporter Will Cushman delves into what declining milk prices mean for Wisconsin dairy producers. He highlights specific counties in the state that have shown stark declines in herd numbers, and discusses what the outlook is for future milk prices.
A maelstrom of economic and demographic forces are hammering Wisconsin's dairy farmers. But what's causing such exceptional distress in one of the state's iconic industries?