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Experts keep hope alive despite dying dairy industry

WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) — As dairy farms continue to struggle in Wisconsin, experts said there’s still light at the end of the tunnel.

An industry that has been such a large part of central Wisconsin is the focal point at the Woodson History Center.  Along with an exhibit, they brought in the Wisconsin Dairy Farmers for a closer look at the changing field.

Many people in central Wisconsin have either worked on a dairy farm or have family or friends who did.  Now, Wisconsin dairy farmers fear for the future of their businesses.

“The trend of losing dairy farms is really one of the tragedies of our times,” Patrick Geoghegan of Wisconsin Dairy Farmers said. “We hate to see what’s happening.”

DuWayne Zamzow is a fourth generation dairy farmer. He called it quits at the age of 50 and noticed his neighbors also getting out of the industry.

“Our local church, was made up of dairy farmers out in the Town of Berlin, and we don’t have a dairy farmer in our congregation at all now,” Zamzow said.

Geoghegan spoke at the ‘History Speaks’ on the dying industry.

“It’s not a new development,” he said. “Demand is not keeping up with production of the milk. The price of milk that farmers are being paid for is quite low right now, we’re in the fourth year of low milk prices.”

The exhibit gave former farmers, like Zamzow, a chance to take a trip down memory lane.

“It’s done well, it brought back a lot of memories, it’s a nice exhibit,” Zamzow said.

Experts said some reasons for the dying industry are farming becoming more mechanized, more efficient, and not needing as many people on farms as before.

Despite the tough times for farmers, some see hope for the future.

“Fortunately farmers are eternal optimists,” Geoghegan said.

The integral part of central Wisconsin history was on display for everyone to remember.

Neena Pacholke

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