Give U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue credit for being honest about the future of dairy farming.
Speaking to reporters after a visit to a dairy exposition in Wisconsin, Perdue said he doesn’t know if the family dairy farm can survive the industry’s continuing push toward a larger factory model.
“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue said. When it comes to the dairy industry, that has certainly proven to be true in Mississippi, which used to have a lot more dairy farms than it does today.
Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland, but now it is dealing with the exact same problem that many Mississippi dairy counties have faced for years. In 2019, 551 of Wisconsin’s dairy farms have closed; 638 closed last year, and 465 closed in 2017.
Perdue’s audience surely did not like what it heard. But at least he told it to them straight.
Consolidation is the trend throughout the economy, and it’s been going on in other parts of farming for a long time. Economies of scale — particularly for an enterprise with large up-front costs — dictate that bigger is better.