A new study shows that many of America’s small dairy farms are shutting the business down because of low milk prices. Many of the nation’s small dairy farmers are facing a crisis which puts at risk their lifestyle and even livelihood.
Also, some of the farmers that get out of business choose suicide. The suicide rates among dairy farmers are so high that dairy cooperatives now offer their members the suicide line number along with their monthly checks.
- Farmers have hoped that the market would regulate the amount of milk that needs to be produced and the price.
- But now they cite the Canadian system where a fine-tuned supply management and a minimum price have kept small businesses running.
Many farmers complain that dairy farming has become so difficult nowadays that it is almost impossible to make a profit. Farmers believe that the lack of proper milk policies in the U.S. and rampant corruption have led to the crisis.
Farmers Ending their Lives Because of High Stress
Small farm owners, forestry workers, and fishermen have the highest suicide rates in the U.S. Around 85% of suicides per every 100,000 workers stem from those three categories. According to a CDC report from 2016, there were 900 suicides among U.S. farmers, forestry workers, and fishermen.
Usually, farmers face some uncertainty as their business relies on Big Agribusiness’ whims, weather, and the market. The uncertainty is now even higher with Washington preparing for a trade war with China. But U.S. farmers’ high levels of stress are caused by issues that emerged before the days of the current administration.
Between 2014 and 2017, milk prices have plunged to $15 per 12 gallons or a hundredweight. Many farmers chose not to close their business despite the losses. A hundredweight now costs between $22 and $25 on average to produce.
We wouldn’t need the suicide hotline […] if dairy farmers were getting paid what they deserve to be paid,
Pennsylvania farmer Tina Carlin said.
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