ST. JOSEPH COUNTY — Nearly 60 dairy farms in the state of Indiana have closed down since the beginning of the year and many local dairy farms in Michiana are facing the same threat.
Doug Leman, Executive Director of Indiana Dairy Producers, explained this threat is nothing new. It all boils down to economics. Leman said over the last 50 years, dairy farmers have been producing more milk than is being consumed.
Dairy farmers who have been running family farms for generations are now facing the tough decision whether or not to close down for good.
“It’s a very hard thing to have to go through,” said Leman. “It’s emotionally, mentally and physically tough when you reach that point.”
Many farmers are blaming the decline on larger corporations like Walmart, who partner with farms for direct shipping to their stores. “They have some direct shippers now, which is farms,” said Leman. “So some people will say it’s a Walmart farm. Basically that means Walmart is their market. They are their farms, by no means do they own them. They have an agreement with that farm.”
The National Milk Producers Federation estimates tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration will cost U.S. dairy farmers close to $1.8 billion through the end of 2018.