Trump Cabinet official delivers devastating message to small-scale farmers
If Wisconsin is as much of a battleground state in the 2020 presidential election as many pundits are predicting it will be, President Donald Trump will need a heavy voter turnout in the rural areas of the state. And Sonny Perdue, secretary of agriculture in the Trump Administration, didn’t give Wisconsin’s dairy farmers a lot to be optimistic about this week when he told reporters that small dairy farms probably have a rough road ahead of them.
Perdue spoke to journalists after an appearance at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin on Tuesday. And he warned that dairy farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet by milking smaller herds.
The secretary of agriculture warned, “In America, the big get bigger, and the small go out. I don’t think in America we — for any small business — we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”
Fifth-generation Wisconsin dairy farmer Jerry Volenec, the Star Tribune reported, left the World Dairy Expo feeling that Perdue gave him plenty of reason to feel pessimistic. Volenec told reporters, “What I heard today from the secretary of agriculture is there’s no place for me. Can I get some support from my state and federal government? I feel like we’re a benefit to society.”
Another Wisconsin-based dairy farmer, Darin Von Ruden — who serves as president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union — stressed that he has a problem with dairy farming being dominated by giant corporations and small dairy farmers being put out of business. Von Ruden, who operates a 50-cow organic farm, told reporters, “Do we want one corporation owning all the food in our country?”
The Trump years have not been kind to dairy farmers in Wisconsin. According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Wisconsin lost 465 dairy farms in 2017 followed by 638 in 2018 and 551 so far in 2019.