Increase in milk prices offer a glimpse of hope for dairy farmers

ATHENS, Wis. (WSAW) -- Farmers haven’t had a lot to be optimistic about. Wet weather and a poor harvest have made life more than difficult for those who provide for society to make ends meet. For dairy farmers, however, a small glimpse of hope is showing itself in the form of milk prices.

Cows feeding at Miltrim Farms in Athens, Wis. 11/15/19 (WSAW photo)

“November itself, it just hit $20 per hundredweight of milk. That’s for every hundred pounds, you get $20,” said David Trimner, general manager of Miltrim Farms in Athens, who milks over 2,000 cows daily. “It’s great to see, but we’d love to see a good year.”

According to Trimner, that’s the highest price for milk in the last five years.

“A lot of people, they’ve got unpaid feed bills; they’ve got seed bills that they needed to pay from this last spring; this next spring is coming up and you have to prepay to get discounts,” said Trimner. “This will hopefully give us some hope and help us start to get on track.”

This news comes while new legislation is up for vote in the state Senate, Bill 505, which would provide tuition assistance grants for educational programs aimed at helping prevent farm suicides.

“The fact that the price of milk is going up is good. It probably adds some relief and maybe takes some of that anxiety and depression away,” said Dr. Casper Bendixsen, a center director at Marshfield Clinic’s National Farm Medicine Center. “The fact of the matter is, if there’s other reasons for anxiety and depression, the changes in milk prices don’t change that.”

Trimner agrees, saying that while it’s a relief for many farmers to be able to earn a profit on their milk, the future is still up in the air.

“We’re expecting to not see such a high price going forward but still see reasonable prices,” said Trimner. “Maybe $18, which again, is kind of a price point I feel that people can still start to recover a little bit. There are a lot of variables into that, particularly farm to farm, but right now feed costs are a little bit lower, and hopefully they stay there. I say once we get below $16, you really start to eye things up, see where we’re spending our money and how can we improve that so $16 is really that kind of break even.”

Trimner added that people at home are able to help farmers with the food that they eat.

“Buying a lot of cheese. For every 10 pounds of milk you make one pound of cheese,” said Trimner. “Cheese is a big deal, so eat lots of pizza, lots of things with cheese ingredients; eat your ice cream, that’s always delicious. Those are some big things to really support the dairy farmers.”