Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

BIG CHANGES IN DAIRY INDUSTRY

Agriculture has undergone many changes in the past decades, but none so great as in the dairy industry. Nicollet County Extension Educator, Wayne Shoper says that in 1985, the state of Minnesota had 28,000 dairy farms. Today there are 5,000. “It is a much more dramatic picture, if you do the math and figure out that this decrease means three dairy farms going out of business every day of the year since 1985.” Shoper said.

There is more to the picture than farms. All of these farms needed partners such as feed salesmen, dairy nutritionists, veterinarians, milk truck drivers, artificial insemination technicians, equipment suppliers, seed stock suppliers, and repair services – just to name a few. Dairy farms are little communities and they used inputs from small towns and regional suppliers.

There are many reasons for these farms going out of business and those will be left for a different post. The loss of all these farms and supporting players is detrimental to rural Minnesota. Nicollet County has seen our share of smaller dairy farms disappear. The industry has become concentrated and Nicollet County is fortunate to have some larger dairies.

The most recent addition is the Davis Family New Sweden Dairy.It is a unique operation because it has the Davis Dairy partnering with the University of Minnesota and a Dairy Training Center is located on site. It offers an opportunity for students studying to be veterinarians to be “right there” when cattle are calving. This hands on experience is something that can’t be learned in a text book or by taking a class online. It is truly an exciting facility and Nicollet County is pleased to be the home for this combination working dairy and training center. end

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