“We’ve always run a tight ship, but we’ve had to cut back on capital purchases,” Miller explained. “Every year you want to replace some machinery so it doesn’t get too old and break down. Now we’re keeping things around longer.”
Not long ago, farms like the Millers’ were booming, and organic dairy farming was the biggest story in Wisconsin agriculture, the outlet reports. But now, that boom is close to a bust. The future family farming in rural areas is worrying farmers.
The Millers offer an instructive story of how the economic pressures are affecting an organic dairy, writes Elsen. The family began making the dramatic shift from conventional dairying in 1992, fearing continued exposure to the pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used routinely in conventional farming were a health hazard.
The problem that farmers like the Miller’s face, is that industrial-style dairies with 10,000 even 15,000 cows have been using the the term “organic”, critics say.
These dairies are widely criticized for not meeting organic requirements for pasturing cows that the Millers and other family farmers follow, Elsen reports.
Read more about the shifting Wisconsin dairy farm landscape here.