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Midwest dairy farmers meet in St. Johns to talk 2023 farm bill

cows in a muddy field behind a metal fence
Kevin Lavery
Michigan dairy farmers are drafting a plan they say could help stabilize their industry.

Midwest dairy farmers are developing a plan to revitalize their industry ahead of the next federal farm bill.

The Michigan Farmers Union and Wisconsin-based Dairy Together coalition organized a meeting Wednesday in St. Johns.

Milk producers say their industry has been on the decline for about three years due in part to a loss of farmers.

Wisconsin Farmers Union vice-president Darin Von Ruden says incentivizing farmers to not overproduce could help regulate the market.

That could be in the form of a fee they would pay for any milk they produce above consumer demand.

“We’re trying to do something for the dairy industry that will stabilize milk prices but won’t force farmers out of business or stifle growth,” Von Ruden said.

He says U.S. dairy products sales are growing at about one to two percent each year.

At the same time, he says, some years, farmers experience a four to five percent production growth.

“When you only see a one-and-a-half to two percent growth on the consumer side, that three percent excess production can drop farmers’ pay prices in half sometimes,” he said. “So, we’re hoping to take those deep valleys out of the equation.”

Von Ruden says he’s hoping Congress will factor in the proposed fee system as lawmakers craft the 2023 farm bill.

Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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