Agriculture Secretary Perdue Says Family Dairy Farms Outlook Is Negative, Advocates Disagree

Oct 7, 2019

 

“The big get bigger, and the small go out.” That’s what United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told farmers in Wisconsin last week at the World Dairy Expo. Advocates for family farms are denouncing the claims, saying small farms are as important and innovative as ever. 

 

“The dairy community in our region is thriving,” said Karianne Fallow, the CEO of Dairy West, a marketing and promotional organization that advocates for family farms in Utah and Idaho. 

Fallow said she respects the secretary, but the farmers she works with are innovating to continue producing quality dairy in responsible ways. 

“All of our dairies are family owned except the LDS Church and some university dairies," Fallow said. "I believe the great strength of our agricultural industry and dairy is in our diversity.”

The secretary’s comments surprised some farmers, but in Wisconsin, the dairy industry has been hurting, with more than 500 farms already closing this year. But the Trump administration’s policies and trade wars are not helping, advocates argue.   

According to a September analysis by the U.S. Dairy Export Council, U.S. dairy exports to China fell by 43 percent since July 2018, when the first round of tariffs started. 

Fallow isn’t too worried. 

“Our dairy farmers are some of the most optimistic people," she said, "and they are innovating and are always looking for ways to do their work better and prosper in the long term.”

Some milk may be spilling, but Fallow said its not anything to cry about.