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Entry into Wisconsin Dairying: Patterns, Processes, and Policy Implications
Research Reports No. 4, May 1999
by Frederick Buttel, Douglas Jackson-Smith, Bradford Barham, Daniel Mullarkey, and Lucy Chen

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Nineteen ninety-eight will very likely be remembered as the year when the Wisconsin "all milk" price set an all-time record. Even so, it is generally recognized that these unusually high milk prices are masking a set of serious structural problems for the state's dairy industry. Wisconsin's dairy sector has two related, but distinct problems. The first problem, and the one most commonly stressed within most quarters of the industry, is the fact that the volume of milk produced in the state has stagnated and declined for over a decade. The declining volume of milk has caused Wisconsin to lose the distinction of being "America's Dairyland," as California has become the nation's number one dairy producing state. But much more significant than Wisconsin having been supplanted by California as the nation's leading dairy producing state has been the impact of the declining volume of milk on the state's dairy processing sector. The second key problem of the Wisconsin dairy sector has been the rapid decline in the number of dairy farms. For over a decade the number of dairy farms in Wisconsin has declined by between 4 to 5 percent per year.

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