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Wisconsin’s dairy industry cautiously optimistic about 2021

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TOWN OF DANE (WKOW) -- June is National Dairy Month and while we celebrate our farmers, they are sharing concerns as the country recovers from the pandemic.

Bill Whipperfurth, a dairy farmer recalled, "Farmers would dump 10 percent of milk right down the drain and it would go as garbage. If you're getting 30,000 pounds a day, and you're dumping 10 percent, you dumped 3,000 gallons of perfectly edible milk right down the drain and they were telling us that it had to do with COVID-19."

Patrick Geoghegan, senior vice president of the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, said, "In March of 2020, we saw sales drop abruptly about 20 or 70 percent."

Last year, dairy farmers faced milk dumping and wild fluctuations in prices and this year dairy farmers are cautiously optimistic.

"Who else throws $100,000 worth of seed in the ground and hopes it'll grow and produce the money to come back?" said Whipperfurth.

Geoghegan said, "Now we know that coming out of COVID-19 we're still working our way through this."

Whipperfurth's guarded positivity stops short when it comes to inflation and feeding nearly 400 cows on his dairy farm.

"A price of a bushel of corn went up from $3.50 and it's been trending lately at around $7. Okay, that's double and that might sound wonderful if you're selling; if you're buying... a whole different story," said Whipperfurth.

Ninety-eight percent of cheese sold in supermarkets across the country comes from Wisconsin, so the dairy association expects strong sales in 2021

Geoghegan said, "Sales for all cheese is plus two percent so we're still growing our sales versus COVID levels which is fantastic."

Like the dairy industry, its farmers say they'll continue to weather the storm.

"We got to do our job. If it's raining or whatever it is, we just shift into something else too... so that we can go forward," said Whipperfurth.

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Rhonda Foxx

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