La Crescent dairy farm faces uncertain future - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

La Crescent dairy farm faces uncertain future

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La Crescent, MN (WXOW) -

A La Crescent dairy farm that has survived four generations faces an uncertain future following Canada's newly imposed dairy trade regulations.

"What they did is change their pricing system," Wisconsin Representative Lee Nerison said. "They're taking more of their own Canadian milk and have made it so there is no market for U.S. imports anymore."

Richard Johnson owns Pine Creek Farms Inc. in La Crescent and has worked on the farm since 1979.

"My dad moved to the farm in 1935 and he worked for 30 some years and then I started again in the late 70's," he said.

Johnson's 125 cattle produce 10,000 pounds of milk everyday and for the past four years, he's sold to Grassland Dairy Products. 

Thanks to an unwelcome letter in the mail earlier this month, things have changed.

"The letter basically said as of May 1 they will no longer be accepting our milk product," Johnson said. "So now we're searching for a new processor because we can't afford to operate without one."

In all, 75 dairy farmers in Wisconsin and Minnesota were cut from Grassland Dairy Products.

Johnson said initially he was shocked and did not realize there were trade disagreements going on between the U.S. and Canada.

"If we don't have a market for our milk we can't afford to feed these cows and throw the milk away," he said. "We'll soon go bankrupt and then we'd have to liquidate without any choice."

Over the past two weeks, the family has called more than 100 processors in hopes of finding someone able to keep their farm alive.

"So far we have not found anyone capable of taking on our product," Johnson said. "We're really hoping sometime this week we can find someone who can help."

Wisconsin Representative Lee Nerison was a dairy farmer for 40 years before entering the legislature and can empathize with what dozens of farmers are experiencing.

"At the state level our main concern is trying to find some place to get the milk so we can get it processed because obviously milk doesn't last too long," he said. "Plus, right now its what they call flush, in the spring of the year is when you get your biggest milk flow so this is just adding to the issue."

Back at the farm, Johnson and his children continue to call around in an attempt to keep the family farm alive as next Monday's deadline looms in the distance.

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