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.
 
As the U.S. dairy industry continues to struggle in the face of ongoing low prices, federal policies intended to support farmers are attracting more attention.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture extended its deadline for milk producers to apply for the Dairy Margin Protection Program — an insurance system to compensate producers if prices fall. What the program means for Wisconsin's dairy farmers?
As the dairy industry struggles with low prices in the face of a long-mounting milk glut, more farmers are finding that their woes are escalating.
Low milk prices have been hitting farmers America's Dairyland hard, including among farmers in western Wisconsin. A Seneca feed store owner, Tammy Olson, organized a town hall meeting to bringing farmers and elected officials together to discuss these challenges.
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How might proposed tightening of U.S. immigration policy affect farmers in Wisconsin? Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism managing editor Dee Hall discusses about how farm workers in Wisconsin who are undocumented would fare under proposed changes to deportation policy.
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.