Advances in Technology and Dairy Production in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Wisconsin businesses have been facing a challenge to recruit and retain employees due to the current unemployment rate, and the state's dairy farms and processing plants are no exception. To help dairy farmers market their milk, the federal government has implemented various dairy programs. In 1933, milk marketing licenses were issued for municipal markets during the Depression. This was followed by the enactment of the Agricultural Marketing Agreements Act in 1937, which replaced licensing with federal milk orders.

Low prices again in the late 1940s led to the passage of the Agricultural Act of 1949, which created the milk support program. The Agricultural Act of 1977 saw an adjustment of support prices to seek favorable policy responses from farmers, resulting in higher prices and an increase in production. This led to large expenditures and onerous supplies, prompting Congress to introduce important changes to both programs. Export and promotion programs were also developed out of congressional actions. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets its target price for milk produced in Eau Claire, as well as other counties in western Wisconsin such as Barron, Dunn, and Trempealeau. Animals need calcium for several cellular processes to work properly, but this can be a problem for dairy cattle due to the high volumes of milk they produce.

The number of industrial dairy farms in the state has increased 55% in less than a decade, to 279 farms. At the same time, advances in technology and genetics have made it possible to reach historic highs in milk production per cow. Industrial farms are taking advantage of their size and modernizing dairy production with improved herd genetics, advanced feed formulations, and constant improvements in milking and feed handling equipment. Mark Hagedorn, agricultural agent for the University of Wisconsin-Extension Eau Claire County, explained that many dairy processors have ongoing hiring efforts. Dairy farms produce 49 million trillion grams of carbon dioxide per year, yet milk production shows no signs of decline. This is due to the mentality that has driven farmers to continuously grow, leading to overproduction that has driven down milk prices and forced people to close their businesses.

Today, a handful of large dairy farms in the Southwest produce more certified organic milk than the 450 organic dairies in Wisconsin combined. Hall's Calf Ranch, an industrial farm that scattered manure, was not in the water according to DNR documents. This figure was based on a survey of milk prices in dairies in Wisconsin and Minnesota.