May 15, 2018

Dairy Farm Bankruptcies Impact Rural Communities

Top Story  |   |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

As farmers continue to struggle with low milk prices, many are being forced to go out of business causing the rural communities they are located in to suffer too.

According to Joel Greeno, a farmer and board president of Family Farm Defenders, an advocacy group based in Wisconsin, small farms going out of business cause other rural businesses to close too. Think grocery stores, hardware stores etc.

"Some of the biggest food deserts in our country are actually in rural areas because there's no more local stores," John Peck, the organization's executive director told Wisconsin Public Radio. “People are driving 30 to 40 miles to get to a big-box retail outlet."

Wisconsin is leading the nation in farm bankruptcies, Wisconsin Public Radio reports. They say “the number of dairy farms in Wisconsin shrank by 500 last year – about 150 have called it quits so far this year.”

Greeno and Peck say they are seeing a trend of processors being more willing to work with large producers than small farms. Earlier this month Arla Foods, a cheese making company, cut ties with 11 Wisconsin farmers citing an oversupply of milk.

Greeno recently sold his dairy. Read more of his story here.