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Dairy farmers need to find their voice

We are part of The Trust Project.

On Friday, Feb 26, Dr. Marin Bozic testified to the Senate Ag Committee on the state of the dairy industry in Minnesota. He said he was testifying on behalf of the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Milk Producers Association.

Dr. Bozic anticipates that 80 percent of existing dairies in Minnesota will be "last generation" dairy farms. He said that if the Legislature should decide to do something to save the dairy industry in Minnesota, he felt they should "focus on those struggling dairies that have a bright long-term outlook." As far as the rest, he said "the sooner they exit, the more equity they preserve. We would be doing them a disservice by offering hope, but really, there is nothing there to hope for."

When a committee member asked how to distinguish who to help, and who not to help, Dr. Bozic described a new model of ownership that would bring together 10-15 families, pooling their resources to build a $30 million to $50 million dairy. He said a dairy this size would have the economies of scale to be competitive.

As an example of that type of dairy in the state he named Riverview LLC of Morris, Minn. In 2015, Riverview owned 34,500 cows on five different farms. In 2017 they were building a 9,500 cow farm in Wilkin County. Minnesota currently has about 460,000 milk cows. Thus it would take approximately 11 operations the size of Riverview LLC, to produce the milk of the 3,000 dairy farms currently in Minnesota. Perhaps Dr. Bozic should do a study on how this kind of change would affect rural Minnesota.

This is the kind of testimony that is being given to our legislators on behalf of the Minnesota Milk Producers and the University of Minnesota, compliments of your tax dollars and check-off money.

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It appears we are at another crossroads: do we push forward with the model suggested by Dr. Brozic, or do we strive to find policy which works for the majority of dairy producers?

Dairy producers need to find their voice. If you don’t like what Dr. Brozic, speaking on behalf of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, is saying, perhaps you should quit giving MMP your money. If you don’t want future legislation based on this testimony, you should contact your legislator and share your concerns. Sen. Mike Goggin’s 651-296-5612 is on the Ag Committee and represents parts of southeast Minnesota.

Here is a link to the testimony that was given that day to the Ag Committee. You can fast forward to the dairy segment at 1 hour and 6 minutes into the testimony.

Bill McMillin

Kellogg, Minn.

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