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New number of farmers in Wisconsin offers hope following recent declines

Wisconsin lost 10% of its dairy farmers since 2017 while the number of new, small farms is on the increase, an event planned to raise awareness

New number of farmers in Wisconsin offers hope following recent declines

May 15, 2024 4:08 PM CDT
By: Teri Barr

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Wisconsin lost 10% of its dairy farmers since 2017 while the number of new, small farms is on the increase, an event planned to raise awareness

The new number of farmers in Wisconsin is offering hope following a dramatic decline in dairy farms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the most recent state census shows 58,521 farms in 2022, which is a 10% loss since 2017. Another 450 dairy operations shut down in just the last year.

But a separate report reveals an increase of 16% in new, small, and beginner farmers during the same time frame. This includes any farm selling $1,000 or more of its goods, along with crops grown, income, and farm expenses. It also shows a majority of these new farmers are still working another full-time job.

However, an official with the Wisconsin Farmers Union credits updated policies and programs within the USDA as a new show of support for smaller farmers following pandemic-related hardships.

“A lot of decision makers called the large losses a wake up call,” Kriss Marion, a director for the Wisconsin Farmers Union, says. “This shows it is time to support small and medium scale farms, diversification, and to work on building a more resilient ag system.”

The Wisconsin Farmers Union is also one of 16 organizations planning protests to call for an end to government policies in favor of the largest food industry giants. These “Enough is Enough” gatherings are scheduled across the country. One will be held in Wisconsin on May 22 at the Goplin Homestead Farm on Huskelhus Road in Osseo starting at 3 p.m.

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