Normally, when a politician appears before a group he'll make promises or otherwise placate the group that the government he represents will do something for them. Not so with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, however. He all but told those assembled that small dairy farms are going to become extinct and that was tough, but just the way things work in the world of unbridled capitalism. "The big get bigger, the small go out," said Perdue.
Source: Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary said Tuesday during a stop in Wisconsin that he doesn’t know if the family dairy farm can survive as the industry moves toward a factory farm model.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters following an appearance at the World Dairy Expo in Madison that it’s getting harder for farmers to get by on milking smaller herds.
“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue said. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”
Perdue’s visit comes as Wisconsin dairy farmers are wrestling with a host of problems, including declining milk prices, rising suicide rates, the transition to larger farms with hundreds or thousands of animals and Trump’s international trade wars.
Wisconsin, which touts itself as America’s Dairyland on its license plates, has lost 551 dairy farms in 2019 after losing 638 in 2018 and 465 in 2017, according to data from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The Legislature’s finance committee voted unanimously last month to spend an additional $200,000 to help struggling farmers deal with depression and mental health problems.
Jerry Volenec, a fifth generation Wisconsin dairy farmer with 330 cows, left the Perdue event feeling discouraged about his future.
“What I heard today from the secretary of agriculture is there’s no place for me,” Volenec told reporters. “Can I get some support from my state and federal government? I feel like we’re a benefit to society.”