Last-minute deal saves Wisconsin dairy farm

A trade war with Canada has endangered dairy farms

A trade war brewing with our neighbors to the North almost caused dozens of Wisconsin dairy farmers their livelihood.

Almost 60 Wisconsin dairy farms were on the verge of shutting down because their milk buyer dropped them due to changes in Canada’s classification of milk, and contracts were supposed to end May 1.

But now other buyers have stepped up to save the day.

For the Sauer family, the month of April was long and tough.

"These cows are like family to us," said Jennifer Sauer.

"I can't imagine doing anything else," said her husband Shane.

There were thoughts of selling their cattle, life without a farm.

"There were a lot of tears shed there were a lot of thoughts that ran through your head, I cried," Jennifer said.

"You think this may be your last day all kinds of thoughts run through your head that you just can't imagine," Shane said.

This all because they were one of many farms left without a milk buyer. Grassland Dairy Products dropped them.

Grassland decided against buying milk from farms because it lost millions of dollars when the Canadian dairy industry made it harder for U.S. processors to sell ultra-filtered milk used to make cheese in Canada.

"It's just unfair we did nothing wrong to deserve it," Shane said.


Contracts were supposed to end Monday but another milk buyer out of Monroe Wisconsin stepped in ready to buy milk from the Sauer family.

"Tears of joy," Jennifer said.

"When we signed that paper it was like the pressure was lifted off of us," Shane said.

The end to a challenging month getting to keep their third generation farm going, The Sauer family signed a long-term contract. But other farmers have only found short-term solutions.

"I wouldn't wish this upon anybody, it was hard," Jennifer said.

The Wisconsin Farmers Bureau and other co-ops are working with those families to help them find long-term buyers.

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