Wisconsin sees decline in number of dairy farms

CAMBRIDGE, WI - APRIL 25: Cows eat before being milked on Hinchley's Dairy Farm on April 25, 2017 near Cambridge, Wisconsin. President Donald Trump today tweeted 'Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult. We will not stand for this.' (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

MADISON — Wisconsin is seeing a decline in the number of dairy farms despite increasing milk production as commercial farms expand.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that numbers from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection show the state lost 500 dairy farms last year. Wisconsin had just over 8,800 dairy herds licensed at the beginning of this year.

Steven Deller is a professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He says it’s difficult for small scale dairy farms to be profitable so it’s likely the number of commercial farms will continue to decrease.

Kevin Bernhardt is a UW-Platteville agribusiness professor. He says fewer farms may hurt rural communities.

But Deller says small producers can tap into the growing interest in local food and specialty crops instead.