On top of that, the pandemic is also disrupting their industry but things are starting to look up.
This spring, dairy farmers were in a troubling situation as many had no choice but to dump out truckloads of milk because their product had nowhere to go with places like restaurants, hotels, and schools closed.
“You can’t produce milk and just dump it, you have no income,” said Mitch Breunig, owner, and operator of Mystic Valley Dairy in Sauk City.
Breunig said he had to dump more than 90,000 pounds of milk which set him back financially, but as the pandemic carried on – things improved.
“Cheese went from a $1 in April in the Chicago market to almost $3 which is an all-time record,” Breunig said.
The secondary markets for cheese did improve as more businesses opened up and other products like corn and soybeans were being purchased by China.
The ebb and flow of the market varied throughout the year which John Haag, a dairy farmer in Dane, called a “wild ride.”
“I’ve been farming for 30 years and I’ve never been on such a wild ride like this year,” he said. “We went from record highs to record lows in (the market) within a matter of months.”
Fluctuating markets created uncertainty for farmers until the federal government stepped in.
“We received some federal money and that’s what helped us get through this year, if it wasn’t for that we would really serious trouble,” Haag said.
Bruenig also received payments from the federal Coronavirus Food Assistance Program he called crucial to helping his businesses.
As the year comes to a close, farmers are unsure what 2021 will bring but many are prepared for what lies ahead.
“We just keep plugging away and will get through it,” said Haag.
Farmers can still apply for federal aid to help offset the cost of losses tied to the pandemic. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program is accepting applications, but the deadline to sign up is Friday.