“Dairy farmers have been struggling mightily with consistent low prices, and then when we get a little bit of an up-swing, it seems like it comes right back down,” said Sarah Lloyd, a dairy farmer in Columbia County.
That’s why several farmers came together to form the “Dairy Together” movement.
It’s not just any group. It’s made up of members from both the Wisconsin Farmers Union and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, two organizations that have had historically opposing viewpoints when it comes to policy.
“Philosophically, the dairy industry should be interested in managing our supply,” said Hans Breitenmoser, a dairy farmer in Lincoln County. “I feel like that should be our responsibility.”
Dairy Together is hoping to approach that issue not by limiting milk production, but by controlling the growth of individual farms.
Under their plan, farmers would have the same level of allowable growth each year, and would have to pay a fee if they wanted to expand beyond that. When the demand for milk is high, those fees are low, but if the demand is low, those fees increase.
“You can expand, you can grow… but you will need to think about the other farmers in this situation,” Lloyd said.
Breitenmoser says this coudl be a good way to keep independent family farms afloat even in uncertain times.
“I think the strategy of managing growth makes sense so that we can meet demand rather than so often exceed demand,” he said.
The Dairy Together movement is hoping to lobby congress in order to get their plan into the 2023 federal farm bill.