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.
 
Immigration as a top line issue for dairy farmers would have been unthinkable just a generation ago when Wisconsin's agricultural landscape was dominated by small and medium-sized dairy farms run by the families that owned them.
Trade frictions between the United States and Canada are a loud addition to a varied array of threats to Wisconsin dairy farmers' livelihoods.
A change in Canadian trade policy led a dairy processor to cancel its contracts with dozens of Wisconsin farmers. Wisconsin Farmers Union district director Chris Holman discuses the growing production of milk and what effect it has on small and large dairy farmers.
Wisconsin's dairy industry is dealing with a big shock after one processor, Grassland Dairy Products Inc., dropped its contracts to buy milk from dozens of farms, citing a new Canadian policy that favors that nation's domestic milk producers.
Spring has brought gut-wrenching uncertainty to scores of dairy farms around Wisconsin. On April 1 a Clark County-based processor dropped their contracts, leaving them without a place to sell their milk.
Seventy-five dairy farmers in Wisconsin learned they would have to find a new processor to buy their milk due to a new tariff from Canada on certain dairy imports. Mark Stephenson with the UW-Madison Program on Dairy Markets and Policy discusses the market conditions dairy producers face.
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As a result of shifting Canadian trade policies, a dairy processor canceled its contacts with 75 Wisconsin dairy farmers. Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection secretary Ben Brancel discusses the dispute and what officials are doing about it.
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A new import policy in Canada has led a Wisconsin dairy processor to drop dozens of farmers in the state. As a result, these farmers are scrambling to find a new customer for their milk.
Silvopasture is the practice of planting feed and grazing animals like cows, sheep or poultry in managed forest lands. It's a type of agroforestry that helps landowners provide livestock sheltered space, preserve soil quality and generate income from surplus forage and harvested trees.
Cattle can often be seen grazing in meadows around Wisconsin, but they may also be finding their meals in wooded areas.