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Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Barely Hanging on as Crisis Deepens With No End in Sight

This was the year that longtime dairy farmer Jim Goodman decided to call it quits.

The third-generation farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin, milked cows for more than four decades

He loved the animals and the work, and had endured hard times, but the most recent downturn in dairy farming – now in its fourth year — was one of the worst he'd seen. 

For many farmers, the price they've received for their milk hasn't covered their expenses. Some have lost thousands of dollars a month, and there’s not much relief in sight as the marketplace is flooded with the commodity they produce. 

Wisconsin is on track to lose more dairy farms this year than in any year since at least 2003, according to state Agriculture Department figures for dairy producer licenses. 

As of Nov. 1, the dairy state had lost 660 cow herds from a year earlier, and the number of herds was down nearly 49 percent from 15 years ago.

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