‘When it comes down to it, farming is a business’: Dairy farming rapidly declining in Wisconsin
JANESVILLE, Wis. — “When it comes down to it, farming is a business,” said dairy farmer Doug Rebout.
The decline of dairy farms is devastating Wisconsin’s economy. We’re down nearly 20 percent since 2013. Hear how one man is pushing through the tough times to keep pursuing what he loves in the midst of financial hardships tonight at 6 on #news3 pic.twitter.com/QNDgSsWEgz
— Jamie Perez (@JamiePerezTV) September 17, 2018
Rebout has been living on the same farm for the last 50 years. Although he is well aware of the decline in dairy farming, he is adamant on powering through.
“We have looked at it, we’ve made the decision on our farm that we are going to keep going with it,” Rebout said.
The collapsing prices of milk have forced many farmers in the country to call it quits. Not being able to pay bills can put a lot of stress on farmers.
“There’s good years and bad years,” Rebout said. He added the good years are meant to build cash reserves in anticipation of the bad years.
University of Wisconsin, Madison Director of Dairy Policy Analysis Mark Stephenson said he’s not surprised at the declining trend.
“Their cash reserves have pretty much been gone. Many of them are having to borrow now to continue milking,” Stephenson said. “There’s simply too much milk production happening in the world right now relative to demand.”
Stephenson also added many of those who are leaving the industry due to falling milk prices, are farmers who are too old to wait for the prices to go up again or put the money toward it, and most just end up retiring altogether.
“It’s sad because I know the farmers that are getting out of it, love what they do,” Rebout said.
While Rebout is hopeful he can continue his dairy farming business, Stephenson said he anticipates the market for dairy farming will increase in due time, once milk production settles back to a normal supply-and-demand ratio.
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