Report shows significant farm losses in Wisconsin - WBAY

Report shows significant farm losses in Wisconsin

Updated:
Kewaunee County -

In 2012 the average age of a Wisconsin farmer was 55 years old. Aging farmers say the future of the industry lies with the next generation.

"My parents talked about selling the cows and I realized I wasn't ready to see it go yet. I at least wanted my chance if the farm was going to end I at least wanted to know I gave it every go I could," said Dairy Farmer Todd Augustian. 

37 year-old Todd Augustian and his brother run the dairy farm he took over from his parents more than a decade ago and now it's one of the most successful in Wisconsin. He says in this economy small farms face an uphill battle.

 "It's just too hard to milk 40 cows and make a living. The cost of equipment and the cost of everything else. You just can't do it anymore," said Augustian.

While the USDA Census of Agriculture says the smallest percentage of farmers are under the age of 34, farmers believe as technology evolves in this industry It could create more opportunities for young farmers.

"The physical work is still here with milking the cows and putting out the feed, but there are a lot of other things that can be done behind the scenes now and the management part of it, the business side of it," said Augustian.

Experts say poor prices for milk eliminated many farms in 2009, but the loss of farms and farmland from 2007 to 2012 isn't a reason to panic.

"Farmers have become a lot more efficient than they were years ago. They've become more productive on less acres," said Kewaunee County Agriculture Agent Aerica Bjurstrom.

The Census of Agriculture says Wisconsin still ranks in the top ten states in agricultural sales.

While there are fewer farms they are larger and more efficient.

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