To the editor:
It troubles me that at the same time Grassland Dairy Products canceled contracts with 74 family dairy farms, it is also building a 5,000-cow corporate-owned concentrated animal feeding operation in Dunn County.
The other day I was waiting for the vet clinic to reopen after lunch so I could grab some supplies. As I sat in the parking lot, I watched at least two dozen feed trucks, milk trucks, vet trucks and farmers’ pick-ups with a pallet of newly purchased seed in the back, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if we rolled all the small and mid-sized dairy farms into just a handful of large farms with several thousand cows each. Stop and think of all the truck drivers, salespeople, nutritionists, vets and feedmill operators who could potentially be out of a job. What would our small towns look like? Who’s going to be stopping for lunch, gas, groceries, vet supplies, building materials, hardware or parts?
In a 2000 study of 1,106 rural communities, economic growth rates in communities with traditional-sized farms were 55 percent higher than in those with large animal feeding operations. This is because smaller farms make nearly 95 percent of their expenditures locally, while larger operations spend less than 20 percent locally. Having many farms of various sizes has a huge impact on the local economy and provides a livelihood for many hardworking people. It’s not just the farmers who will be out of work if we continue down the path of farm consolidation and corporate-owned farms.