U.S. dairy surplus hitting farmers hard

Published: Aug. 15, 2016 at 1:31 AM CDT
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Are you drinking less milk these days? If so, you aren't alone — and with less people drinking milk and lower prices — it’s become a recipe for disaster if you're a dairy farmer.

It may be miles away, or just down the street. But the place that puts the milk on your table is likely struggling.

Chuck Fry has worked on his family’s farm for more than 35 years. He’s been through ups and downs, and many government programs — he says the state of dairy farms today — is in a class of its own.

“This is not working. Worse than everything I’ve ever seen. It’s tough,” said Fry.

So what does it take to keep this dairy open?

“The alarm goes off at 4 o’clock. There’s a lot to do,” said Fry.

Fry and his team milk nearly 200 cows — twice — every single day.

“You can’t just turn them on and off, it’s a challenge.”

With one baby calf born every other day and 7,000 gallons of milk sent out every other week, this farm doesn’t have a deficit of milk but a deficit of customers.

Farmers have struggled for the last 20 years fighting those who want to use margarine and other vegetable based products instead of dairy. But more recently, China cut down their milk supply from the U.S. and local farmers have been unable to grow their markets within our country.

“When you get up every day knowing everything you do is gonna cost you money to work this hard… it’s crazy,” said Fry.

Fry says two of his neighbors recently sold their cows, and his profits are down 50 percent in two years.

One congressman has taken note. Rep. Ron Kind is working to create an action plan — including marketing to countries overseas and encouraging the next generation of farmers to get involved.

“We have more work to do there in order to tear down some barriers that currently exist,” said U.S. Representative Ron Kind, (D) of Wisconsin.

Fry says that’s the right idea, because right now the future looks pretty bleak.

“We can’t do this for another year.”

But he’s not giving up on his family farm, because for more than 130 years those in his family have kept it going.

“We’re just kinda hanging on for dear life at this point,” said Fry.