Wisconsin dairy farmers shut out of Canadian market

"Dairy means more to Wisconsin than citrus to Florida or potatoes to Idaho", Brancel said in a statement.

"We encourage other dairy processors to be more forward-thinking in their communications with their farmers".

"The problem right now is that we've seen milk production go up in other states, including South Dakota and MI, and (Wisconsin processors have) bought up some of that milk, so the system is full right now and has left us less flexibility than we had hoped for", Brancel said.

"If it comes down to wanting to borrow money from banks for long-term investment into dairy, and there's not a reasonable expectation that farmers will be able to have their milk picked up and sold, we could be looked upon very differently by the bankers".

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As Mike Buwalda loaded his trailer with milk from the Roskopf family farm Thursday, he openly anxious about how Grassland's decision could impact the entire community. "The problem is not Canada's dairy system, the problem is that there is too much milk produced in the US, which is not Canada's fault". Unlike whole milk, it has entered Canada duty-free from the United States. With 10,000 dairy farms producing 30 billion pounds of milk annually, the dairy industry accounts for over half of the state's $88 billion agriculture industry.

Over 70 Wisconsin dairy operations have felt the blow from Canada's latest protectionist trade policies overnight, as the policies have worked to slam the door on American dairy exports, violating existing trade commitments between the two nations and leaving farmers scrambling for buyers. "We're gonna keep picking their milk up and we will find a place for them", Buwalda said. "Any disruption in exports of dairy would have a devastating ripple effect on our farms and beyond, to workers in processing, transportation, and countless other sectors whose jobs are supported by these exports".

Family farms that lost their purchaser would have to sell their cows and go out of business if another company can not buy their milk, Brancel said.

Greenwood-based Grassland Dairy is reducing the number of Wisconsin dairy farms it purchases milk from as a result of new trade regulations that prevent the company from exporting condensed milk to Canada, according to a company spokesman.

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"While Mexico has been an incredibly valuable trading partner for dairy, Canada, by sharp contrast, has habitually worked to undermine dairy trade", Mulhern said in a news release.

The Canadian tariff was being applied to US milk being imported into Ontario since April 2016. If these multi-generational farm families can not find another market for their milk, they will be forced to sell their cows and go out of business. Industry leaders and many state and federal lawmakers have also sent letters to President Trump to address Canada's anti-competitive efforts to keep US products out of its borders.

"I'm just taking it on face value [of the letter] and they've said it will be between one and four cents, so I've got no reason to assume it would be more than that", he said.

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