In honor of June Dairy Month, Valley Sentinel is sharing stories of three regional farms throughout Sauk and Iowa Counties. Below is a Q&A with the Fullers, 4th generation dairy farmers in Loyd. The interview and photos were provided by regional photographer Jolean Louis.
Farm Name– Fuller’s Rustic View Dairy
Owners– Steve Fuller, Cassie Fuller and Mandi Fuller, Loyd, WI, north of Ithaca
Cows Milked– 65-70
This was a 4th Generation Farm, Steve himself has farmed for 38 years of his life. He was now farming with his 2 daughters Cassie and Mandi. The Fuller’s have many honors they have received over the years, 2 time Richland County Outstanding young farmer and with Steve’s mom and Grandma receiving Richland County Outstanding Farm woman.
What factors helped make your decision to stop milking?
The next generations did not want to continue to keep milking cows. A lot of factors play into this decision.
Especially the prices that farmers are paid for their products these days. It’s hard to make the money for the younger generation to survive. Also we were at the point if we needed to get bigger with more cows so many factors play into that and the way prices are today with the cost of feed it just wasn’t something we could see doing.
What led to the cows being sold?
The profit margin’s are so bad now days. You find yourself adjusting your spending, your needs or your wants are always being adjusting and you go with out just to keep the farm going. The competition from the larger dairies, the small dairies have to fight just to stay a float. No one wants to deal with the small farm anymore. The price of land has tripled, the price of machinery has tripled as well. You have to either stay the same size and keep readjusting your wants and needs or you need to go into debt and expand. But if the younger generation doesn’t want to keep going and keep milking than you know it’s time to get out.
What needs to change?
Bottom line Farmers need to get paid more for their products. A farmer’s hands are tied. They have no control over what they are paid for their products. And the world we live in has given farmers such a bad rep no one understands what it takes to produce the products that the world takes for granted. Without Family Farms left there is no one to carry on the family Farm and without the family farm our dairy industry doesn’t have much of a future. We need to change things so the younger generation wants to farm and to make it easier for them to survive starting out.
How can people help small farms?
By giving farmers the option to sell right to the consumers .Try and buy right from your local farmer. Eliminate the middle guy so farmers can see more of an income on their products. Buy Local come to the farm and buy your meat right from the farmer. Get to know where your product comes from. Help promote the good things farmers do and help to give them a good name again and really know where your food comes from.