Dairy farmers in Wisconsin’s central farm belt are in desperate need of a massive boost to their operations to ensure they can keep producing milk for people who are thirsty for the stuff.
That’s because of a drought.
A year ago, the state’s dairy industry was hit with a wave of severe drought that devastated the state and left farmers struggling to find milk.
A new study shows that just three years ago, farmers were actually producing nearly one-third more milk per cow than they are today.
“There’s no way we’re going to survive it,” said Scott Wagenknecht, executive director of the Wisconsin Dairy Growers Association, an industry group.
“I’m so sick of it.”
Wagenkets dairy business is in dire straits.
Wagenck’s family farm produced about 30,000 gallons of milk per day during the first half of the 2020s.
The drought has left Wagenks dairy farm with little milk to produce, so it is struggling to make ends meet.
The dairy industry’s share of the total Wisconsin economy has dropped from nearly 60 percent in 2000 to just under 10 percent in 2015, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
That makes it the worst-performing state sector for dairy production, according with the USDA.
Wags dairy is one of a handful of Wisconsin farms that were forced to close down due to drought in the mid-2000s, said Scott Stuckey, president of the Dairy Grower Association of Wisconsin.
He’s not alone in his frustration.
About 5,000 Wisconsin farmers lost their jobs in the first eight months of the year, according the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.
Many of them lost their farms, too.
“It’s very difficult to find a job in this industry,” said Wagen, who lives in St. Cloud.
“There’s not enough demand.”
A year ago Wagen had no milk on his dairy farm.
The crop was still good enough for him to produce one gallon of milk a day, he said.
That meant he was able to feed his family.
Now that the drought has passed, Wagen is looking for a way to keep producing, and to continue to get milk for his family, but that’s not easy.
The Dairy Growery Association of America estimates that Wagen’s dairy production is down from about 15,000 to about 8,000 dairy cows a day.
Wagoners dairy has been on the brink of closure since mid-February.
WAGs dairy operations are currently on the verge of being shut down due an impending state law that will ban dairy farming in Wisconsin, according Stuckeys.
The law requires farmers to produce milk at least 80 percent of their normal production.
The USDA’s report says Wisconsin is one in seven states that have not yet passed a similar law.
Stuchers dairy is a prime example.
The state had only three dairy farms in existence in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 2016, there were 13 farms in Wisconsin.
Wagner’s family started making cheese in 1947, according Wagen.
Today, his family produces about 80 percent cheese, which is the standard for the Wisconsin cheese industry.
But Wagen says dairy production in the state is on the decline, as more and more of the state farms are closing.
Wisconsin is one out of only nine states that don’t have a law that bans dairy farming, according a report from The Farm Bureau, an advocacy group.
Wagenk is trying to get his dairy operation back up and running.
His family started a dairy business in 1950 and he says the state has become too small.
But it is difficult.
“You have to have a tractor and a truck and people to get around,” he said, adding that his family can’t afford to pay for a new tractor.
At the Wageners dairy, he has no other option.
He has already raised about $3,000 in donations to help him get the farm up and going again.
Wagan is looking to build a new dairy farm, which would allow him to have an even bigger operation.
He said the money would also help the farmers who have already lost their dairy farms.
We need to help farmers like Scott Wagerk to get a new farm up, because he is the only one who is going to be able to provide the milk and cheese for us in the future,” said Stuckes son, Mike Stucke, who also lives in Wagens dairy.
For now, Wagerks family has no plans to sell.
Wager’s wife, Jennifer, said she has always been open to giving.
But she’s not giving to a cause that won’t get results.
She said she plans to stay involved with the dairy industry.
But the Wagners are in a difficult situation.
The farm is struggling.
And the state government is restricting