Posted Mar 07, 2019
As a market shopper, you know you can taste the difference between farm fresh and store-bought ingredients — and milk and cheese are no exception! Our dairy vendors, including 1871, Nordic Creamery, J2K Capraio, and Brunkow Cheese offer one-of-a-kind, sustainably produced dairy products including butters, milk, yogurt, and cheese of various flavors and styles for every craving.
Your support of small dairy farmers and cheesemakers is more important than ever, especially as dairy farms face increasing competition from industrial agriculture. Just last year, over 600 Wisconsin dairy farms shut down. In the past 50 years, the number of dairy farms has dropped by 93%. The current state of the dairy industry illustrates how farm policies and systems that favor agri-businesses leave small family farms behind.
A key reason for the dairy crises in our country is that milk prices are set too low. This pricing makes it almost impossible for many small farms to make a profit on their products — they simply can't sell their milk at the same price and be able to continue sustaining their business. Another reason is the rise of nut and plant-based "milks," which are often billed as healthier alternatives.
So why the low prices? Part of the dairy crises has to do with farms over-producing milk. Often excess milk will be turned into cheese to keep longer. This surplus milk and cheese ends up being purchased by the government and kept in cold storage. In fact, of January 2019, the United States had over 1.3 billion pounds of surplus cheese. Much of this cheese will be distributed to food banks across the country.
The current state of the United States dairy industry is complicated and has real implications for the livlihoods of family farmers. We wanted to share a few articles we've found on the topic in case you're interested in learning more.
"Wisconsin Lost Record-Breaking Percent Of Dairy Farms In 2018" from Wisconsin Public Radio
"Dairy: Family Farmers in Crisis" from FarmAid
"With Dairy Farmers Struggling, USDA to Buy $50 Million Worth of Milk" from Modern Farmer
Next time you're at the market, stop by one of our dairy vendors booths to learn more about their product. If you're not already purchasing local milk and cheese at the market, add it to your shopping list! Our staff can attest that 1871 buttermilk is unparralled in buttermilk biscuits, and there's nothing better than Nordic summer butter spread on a Phlour boule or Bennison's baguette with a sprinkle of salt. Your purchases will have a real impact on real people: family farmers who are dedicated to producing top-quality dairy with utmost care and consideration for their animals, land, and customers.