Small Dairy Farms Continue to Disappear Amid Shift to Large-Scale Operations - ABI

American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) - As small farms fold, the balance of production tilts further toward huge, efficient, industrial dairy operations that can more easily weather price downturns and manage a razor-thin profit margin through the power of scale, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported. In Wisconsin alone, between two and three family dairy farms go out of business every single day. (Some of these farms still operate, but no longer as dairies.) In the early 1970s, the state had more than 75,000 dairies. Today it has about 7,400. Across the western border in Minnesota, officials recently reported that the median household income rose last year to about $68,000, roughly 10 percent higher than the national average. Dairy farmers had nothing to do with it. In 2017, the median income for a dairy farm dipped just shy of $44,000 in the state. In 2018, it plunged all the way down to $14,697. Half of Minnesota’s dairy farmers failed to break even for the year. There, too, thousands of dairy farms have simply vanished. In the midst of this mass extinction, a counterintuitive fact remains true: Americans are consuming more dairy products than ever before, primarily because yogurt and cheese have compensated for a steady drop in fluid milk consumption. Americans consumed 646 pounds of dairy per person in 2018 — the highest consumption rate in 56 years.

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