State News

State lawmakers want to milk UW for dairy research

In a bipartisan letter to UW System President Ray Cross, 23 lawmakers requested that the UW System consider researching new uses for dairy milk in response to an abundant global supply.

Image By: Morgan Winston

Rather than crying over spilled milk, state legislators decided to take action to address the steady price decline of Wisconsin’s dairy industry by writing UW System President Ray Cross urging university researchers to find alternative uses for the dairy product.

Wisconsin, championed as the dairy state, is one of the largest producers of milk in the country. With 10,000 dairy farms producing 30 billion pounds of milk annually, the dairy industry accounts for over half of the state’s $88 billion agriculture industry.

The dairy industry is responsible for 350,000 Wisconsin jobs ranging from machinery sales, equipment dealers, veterinarians, nutritionists and processors, among others. Those jobs are starting to disappear, however, due to declining prices since 2014.

“We believe it is time to get creative in trying to solve this problem,” 23 legislators wrote in a bipartisan letter to Cross. “We are asking for you to consider directing some of the vast research opportunities that exist within the University of Wisconsin System to start exploring alternative uses for milk.”

Grassland Dairy Products Inc. notified 75 of its southern Wisconsin dairy producers this week they will no longer be purchasing any of their milk beginning May 1, according to the letter. Many farmers will be left without a market to sell their milk after this date.

Prices in the dairy industry started to decline for a variety of reasons, namely an expanding global supply of high-quality milk while fewer people are consuming fluid milk.

Lawmakers hope that university scientists and researchers can find another productive use for milk, like Iowa corn farmers found an economically beneficial use of ethanol.

“I hope you encourage researchers and scientists to be creative and think outside the box,” the letter said. “We believe the same potential [seen in Iowa] exists for a new product or market to change the dairy industry in Wisconsin and beyond.” 

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Cardinal.