LETTERS from READERS
I am greatly encouraged when I see articles such as the Center for Dairy Excellence's appeal to find empty dairy barns for beginning farmers. But it's a long hard road they are on. They and ag media need to keep on trying to change a mindset of 'working for that big sale day'. Many farmers work hard for decades with the end goal of having a big sale, when all their friends and neighbors show up to hear the words of affirmation from the auctioneer about how great this farmer was and how well he bred his cows, or kept his machinery in top shape. Many farmers live for that day. Uncle Sam does too.
I've watched many beautiful dairy set-ups sit idle as the farmer finishes paying the mortgage, sells the cows, and crop farms to 'enjoy life'. They have worked hard, and I'm not saying they don't have the right to do this. But there are other options.
If they are tired of milking cows, consider finding a young farmer or young married couple that is looking for an opportunity to farm. The farmer looking to slow down could be an adviser to the start-up farmer with his wealth of knowledge he has gleaned over the years of farming that particular farm. Maybe even keeping control of the cropland for a few more years and trading labor with the 'new farmer' to ensure crops and forages get harvested on time. Many hours of frustration could be avoided, many dollars could be saved, if they are willing to work together and get another generation started dairy farming.
There are ag lawyers out there who can draw up the legal paperwork, and get the process started.
As more government regulations come about, many dairy farmers who see retirement in the near future, would rather quit than reinvest in infrastructure. Let the next generation do the investing.
The reason the number of dairy farms is getting less, I believe, is simply because a lot of farmers want their farm to no longer be a dairy farm. That is the mindset we need to change.