This past April, 74 letters were received by dairy producers across Wisconsin and Minnesota, notifying them that they had less than 30 days to secure a new market for their milk.

As farmers were anxiously calling processors and considering their options, FarmFirst was in Washington, D.C. visiting with congressional leaders for important dairy policy matters. As we received this news, it became our top priority to bring the situation to light for political leaders.

In the weeks that followed, we worked with organizations across the industry, including Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture and their Farm Center team, including Secretary Ben Brancel. They worked hard to find a solution for each of these farmers, and we are thankful for their dedication.

Looking to the future, FarmFirst is working on real, long-lasting solutions. This disruption in the marketplace has sent a ripple effect into the dairy industry. 

Read the statement from the FarmFirst Board of Directors from April. 

Read the statement from FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative on May 1. 

Speaking Up for Dairy Farmers at National Trade Meeting

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative spoke in Washington, D.C. this week at a national trade policy rally to represent Midwest dairy farmers and stress the importance of free and fair trade on the dairy industry. “Trade is incredibly important to dairy, especially when a market suddenly closes and 74 farmers are at risk of losing their livelihoods,” says David Cooper, General Manager of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative. “We’re here today to ensure that our concern for dairy farmers is heard, so that more are not put at risk.”

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative met with House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, describing the dire situation that several Wisconsin and Minnesota dairy farmers found themselves in at the beginning of April. FarmFirst also spoke on the key issues at hand for what influenced this sudden change in markets.

“Canada has changed its pricing program to not only incentivize Canadian processors to stop purchasing U.S. dairy exports, such as Ultra-Filtered Milk (UFM) from Grassland here in Wisconsin, but also has begun to export significant quantities of skim milk powder on the global market at below-cost prices,” says Cooper. “This has gone from a bilateral trade issue between Canada and the U.S. to a global challenge,” says Cooper.

Read full release here.

“Trade continues to play an ever-important role for dairy,” comments Cooper. “In 2000, dairy exports accounted for $1 billion and then grew to an all-time high of $7.2 billion in 2014. Exports in 2016 were nearly $5 billion, quadruple that of what it was only 15 years prior.”