Michigan dairy farmers asking for policy change

Michigan dairy famers asking for policy change
Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 6:51 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Fewer Americans are drinking milk than ever before and now the price of milk is tumbling and dairy farms are closing.

An estimated five dairy farms close per day in the United States, but farmers in Mid-Michigan are working on a plan to save themselves and they need the legislature to get involved.

Farmers are pushing what’s called the Dairy Revitalization Plan and they’re pushing it to be included in the next year’s federal farm bill. They said it would help farmers stay afloat.

Over the years, the boom or bust cycle of milk has hurt small farmers. Right now, milk prices are lower because fewer people are buying milk. Farmers said under these conditions, only corporate farms can make money. So farmers are quitting.

“There are no fewer cow numbers.. but there are significantly smaller numbers of dairy farm operations,” said Bob Thompson, President of the Michigan Farmers Union.

In 2018 there were about 1,500 dairy farmers registered in Michigan. Right now there are barely one thousand.

“We have lost approximately 450 dairy farms just in the last four years. Do the math, I mean that’s just an astounding number that not only effects that farm family but it affects the communities that they live in,” said Thompson.

Janet White runs White Dairy LLC in Fowlerville with her husband. She said if things don’t get better it will be between emptying her pockets or emptying her stables.

“When you send your child to college that child’s going to come back. When I sell my cows they don’t come back, and that’s what I’m going to lose.” said White.

There is some hope. Farmers want a program that benefits the small family farm rather than corporate farms. The Dairy Revitalization Plan would include that by raising milk prices which, in turn, raises farm income and level the playing field between dairy farms.

Congress writes a new farm bill every five years. With the last one signed into law in 2018, a new one will have to be passed next year.

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