More than 100 dairy farmers across at least seven states are closing down due to losing their contract with Dean Foods. Dean is shutting down at the end of summer due to bigger corporations building their own processing facilities. This group of farmers is just the latest of more the 42,000 dairy farmers who have gone out of business since the year 2000. In the U.S. in the 1970’s there were nearly 650,000 dairy farms, but only 40,019 remained at the end of 2017.
Did you know that suicide among workers in the farming, fishing, and forestry industry is now five times the national average? Yes, five times. Part of this is due to the fact that rural Americans have less access to health and mental health care. Some pesticides used have also been linked to depression and suicide. But, financial issues is the primary reason why the suicide rate has shot up.
The national net income for U.S. farms has dropped by about 45% (between years of 2011-2014). The price of many crops, including dairy, is now less than the cost to produce them; on average, farmers spend around $1.92 to produce a gallon of milk, but make only $1.32 when they sell to processors, this amount has gone down the past 4 years. To add insult to injury, when these farmers are forced to sell their land, cows and other animals they are getting far less than their worth.
You can help your local farmers by shopping with them. Check out your local farmers market or dairy farm. Spend some time there feeding the animals with your children, buy locally processed dairy, go apple picking at your local orchard. Every little bit helps. Below, I have included a few farms and orchard local to me in Michigan, as well as Ohio, that could always use more love and support.
Michigan Farms & Orchards
Calder’s Dairy Farm (Carleton)
Erie Orchards (Erie)
Harnica Kids’ Pumpkin Farm (Dundee)
Whittakers Berry Farm (Ida)
The Petting Farm at Domino’s Farms (Ann Arbor)
Cook’s Dairy Farm (Ortonville)
Garden Farm Vineyard (Garden)
Iron Fish Distillery (Thompsonville)
Ohio Farms & Orchards
Johnston Fruit Farms (Swanton)
Legend Hills Orchards (Utica)
Rittman Orhards (Doyleston)
The Farm at Walnut Creek (Sugarcreek)
Yoder’s Amish Home (Millersburg)
Hastings Dairy Farm (Burton)
Information gathered from CBS news, NBC News, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture