Cooperative mergers shrink Wisconsin dairy farmers’ options
MILWAUKEE — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent statistics reports show the number of dairy cooperatives in Wisconsin continues to shrink, leaving dairy farmers in the state with fewer options for selling their milk.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the number of agriculture cooperatives in Wisconsin dropped from 180 in 2000 to more than 110 in 2015. Of those, dairy cooperatives in Wisconsin dropped from 31 to 21 during that same period.
The explanation for the shrinkage is that cooperatives across the agricultural industry are consolidating, which is a problem for smaller dairy farms.
Darin Von Ruden, Westby dairy farmer and president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, says he finds the increasing number of cooperative mergers worrisome, adding that some cooperatives have become “marketing giants” in the southwest part of the U.S.
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