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Farm auction offers glimpse into tough dairy climate

TOWN OF DANE, Wis. - Wisconsin dairy farms are facing an uncertain future, and nowhere is that reality more apparent than at Kyle Kurt’s farm in the town of Dane. 

 

Kurt sold off his machinery and animals in an auction at his farm Monday, after more than two decades of running the place. 

 

“When your costs are up and your milk - we're getting paid for milk what [the prices] were 20, 30 years ago,” Kurt said. “How would you like to go to work and not get paid, you know?”

 

It's an all-too-common sound across the state. Cory Bindlingmaier, the auctioneer at Kurt’s farm, said he’s been booked since December. 

 

“[We are] averaging about two a week, and some weeks we've had three or four a week,” he said.

 

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection counts more than 500 farm closures last year, up 20 percent over the past five years. Bindlingmaier isn’t surprised. 

 

“They don't know what it's like to work out here, 18-hour days, make $100 a day and lose $200 tomorrow,” he said. “These guys out here are going back two steps a day and no one in Madison or Washington knows that.”

 

Kyle’s girlfriend, Lindsay Manning, agrees.

 

“We are out here every morning at 5 a.m., don’t get in until 10… work our tails off for no money - not that we care,” she said. “We don't care about making money. We just wish we could keep going. We love it.”
 


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