Going Broke: New report shows financial stress for WI dairy farmers

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Fall Creek (WQOW) — Wisconsin is known as the ‘Dairy State’, but what if our dairy farmers can’t support themselves?

A new report shows Wisconsin had 50 cases of farmers filing Chapter 12 Bankruptcy between June 2017 and June 2018. That’s a dozen more than the year before, with 28 of those cases falling in the Western District alone.

“You put in a lot of hours everyday and everybody’s trying to do the best they can with what they have,” said Matt Krenz, a dairy farmer in Fall Creek.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum’s report showed bankruptcy filings from Wisconsin farms have doubled since 2014.

“You have to be really careful what you spend your money on right now, there isn’t a lot of room for a big mistake,” added Krenz.

Krenz has been dairy farming since the 1980s, and he’s seen fellow farmers struggle through the financial strain.

“Seeing the other neighbors, different ones quitting and it’s probably kind of discouraging. You want your neighbors to succeed and you want them to do good,” Krenz said.

Help is often needed to support a dairy operation, but farmers can’t always afford workers.

“My sister helps out, my dad helps part-time and then my wife also helps,” Krenz stated. “You really can’t hire anyone else. Family is usually willing to work for a little bit less than what you’d pay the ordinary person.”

Constant financial worries linger in the back of farmers’ minds.

“Probably right now it’s been one of the more discouraging times,” Krenz told News 18. “I mean in the spring you’re normally look forward to planting so it’s a little more of an upbeat time, but beginning farmers especially are feeling the pains of, you know, debt and so on.”

However, through it all, Krenz said he gets up every morning to do something he loves.

“A lot of farmers really care about what they’re doing, they’re not doing it maybe for the money, they’re doing it because they enjoy it and they want their family to be able to work together,” added Krenz.

If consumers want to help the dairy industry situation, Krenz said they should support their local farmers and buy local.

Samantha Wensel

Samantha Wensel

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