To the editor:
During the Trump presidency, Wisconsin has lost 1,654 farms. In 2018, nearly 3,000 farms folded across the country. Sonny Perdue, Trump’s secretary of agriculture, in response asked: “What do you call two farmers in a basement? A whine cellar.” Perdue’s advice to farmers: “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out.”
Trump’s answer has been a massive bailout to compensate farmers for their losses during his trade wars. Trump gave $12 billion to farms in 2018 and $16 billion in 2019. Unfortunately family farms in Wisconsin saw hardly any of this giveaway. A 55-cow dairy farm received a one-time payment of $725 while losing between $36,000 to $48,000. An 80-cow farm would get $889, not even enough to cover one month's expenses.
Wisconsin’s family farms have been left behind and passed over by Trump’s policies and trade wars. It is the corporate farms milking cows in the thousands that have received Trump’s bailout funds. These same corporate farms have sent commodity prices plunging with over production while tariffs on dairy products have dried up foreign markets that farmers will take years to get back.
More than half of the milk cows in the U.S. are on farms with more than 1,000 cows. They account for 58 percent of our country’s milk. Twenty years ago those operations only accounted for 20 percent of the milk cows.
The next president of the United States must address the systemic loss of family farms and other rural issues, not just throw money at the problem which never makes it down to the families that farm Wisconsin’s land. These are families and rural communities that are suffering. They deserve more than Perdue’s suggestion to “get a job.” What is needed is a two-tier milk pricing system aimed at boosting revenue for farms milking under 300 cows which is the majority of Wisconsin dairy operations. This would level the playing field between corporate and family dairy farms through a redistribution of money collected in the federal milk marketing system.
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