Grassland Dairy cuts back on number of farms supplying milk

Posted at 3:08 PM, Apr 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-05 03:54:36-04

Greenwood-based Grassland Dairy is reducing the number of Wisconsin dairy farms it purchases milk from as a result of new trade regulations that prevent the company from exporting condensed milk to Canada, according to a company spokesman.

Grassland Dairy sent letters to multiple dairy farms in Wisconsin dated April 1 to indicate as of May 1 the company will no longer be able to buy milk from those farms.

"That's a sad day for us," said Goedhart Westers, Grassland Dairy's vice president of business development. "We tried to absorb as much as we could, but our plant, our equipment could only handle so much. These are good farms ... it's good milk."

The company is not releasing the total number of farms it will stop purchasing milk from, but Westers said the clusters of farms were chosen based on their location where milk producers are more likely to find a new buyer for their supply.

Dori Lichty, who operates a small family dairy farm near Beaver Dam with her husband, had been selling milk to Grassland for the last 1.5 years.

Lichty said she's afraid it's going to be difficult to find a new buyer as the market is experiencing a surplus. 

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R- Green Bay) released a statement Tuesday night, 

“Canada is breaking longstanding trade agreements and Wisconsin farmers are paying the price. The announcement that Grassland Dairy will be cutting its milk intake from our local farms because of new Canadian regulations preventing the sale of our dairy products in their country is not consistent with our values nor our agreements. Trade must be free but fair, and Canada must play by the rules and end their protectionist policies. I've contacted the U.S. Trade Representative on this issue and will continue to push hard for fairness in the days ahead.”