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Opinion: Dairy industry is hemorrhaging

As dairy farmers, one of our top priorities is the health and well-being of our cows. A bovine disease many farmers are familiar with is Hemorrhagic Bowel Syndrome (HBS), a complex condition described simply as a cow bleeding to death due to hemorrhaging in the lower gastrointestinal tract. HBS has two forms, rapid death from acute blood loss and steady decline leading to death from a slow bleed. HBS manifests when the cow is stressed with high production and fed compromised feedstuffs. Treatment is fairly ineffective, and even cows that do survive usually end up culled from the herd. Preventing HBS is the only real option for success in dealing with this disease.

Another top priority for dairy farmers is financial viability. A financial disease all of us are familiar with is Dairy Market Hemorrhagic Syndrome (DMHS). DMHS is a complex condition described simply as loss of income due to depressed markets that bleed the equity out of a dairy. DMHS has two forms as well, financial strain from a slow bleed, and financial ruin from acute income disruption. This disease manifests when the market is stressed from depressed demand and subjected to oversupply. The similarity of the two diseases is staggering. Treatment options are sparse and ineffective leaving prevention as the only viable option for success.

One measure we can take in preventing this hemorrhaging of our dairy industry is supply management. A number of co-ops (maybe yours) have already implemented some sort of program designed to reduce supply. Markets in some countries currently enjoy stability and viability through supply management.

Wisconsin Farmers Union is leading an effort to bring dairy farmers together to investigate this option. Please join us on April 12 at the UW-Platteville Pioneer Farm, 29200 College Farm Road, Platteville, WI, 53818 , in the Ag Tech Center at 7:30 pm for an informational meeting on supply management. Refreshments will be served. Together we can overcome this disease. Get together, get informed, get active, survive and thrive.

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