Reasons vary for declining dairy farm numbers

The Executive Director of Minnesota Milk says economic stress is not the only reason dairy farmers are exiting the business.

Lucas Sjostrom tells Brownfield both Minnesota and Wisconsin lost 7.4% of their dairy farms in 2023. “You actually see a lot of exits in 2014, 2018, a year like 2020, and last year, so those are some of our better dairy years, so it may be a symptom of people planning their exits rather than getting surprised and needing to exit.”

Sjostrom says there are concerns about the increase in farmers leaving the dairy business, but many are evaluating the economic viability of their business in the future.  “I think it’s really hard to paint a picture of why these happen when they happen because if we lost 55 farms in December, that’s 55 individual stories.”

Minnesota had 1,825 dairy farms as of December 1st, 2023.  That’s 146 fewer than the beginning of the year.  December figures have not been released.

Neighboring Wisconsin lost 455 dairy farms in 2023 for a total of 5,661 dairy farms as of January 1st, 2024. 

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