Family sticks by Wisconsin dairy farming despite on-going industry struggles

Dan and Jody Miller standing in the freestall barn. Photo via Jolean Louis

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 Millers, 3rd generation dairy farmers in Highland. The interview and photos were provided by regional photographer Jolean Louis.

Farm name- Miller Time Dairy
Owners- Dan and Jody Miller

The Millers milk 250 plus cows and milk three times a day. The Farm is a 3rd Generation dairy farm. Dan’s dad and his grandpa farmed together and then Dan and Jody took the farm over. Dan Miller’s Grandpa purchased the farm in 1951.

What is the biggest struggles for today’s farmers:

One of the biggest struggles for farmers today is the prices farmers are paid for their products. Today’s farmers are getting the same prices they were getting 20 plus years ago but still having to pay the extremely high prices today. Many people do not know this but farmers do not know what they will be getting paid for their milk until they get the milk check in the mail. Farmers have no control or say for any pricing of their products they sell. The weather has a lot of impact on struggles as well. Like this year we need rain, if we don’t have rain we can’t grow our feed to feed our animals. Some other struggles is finding people to help work on the farm. No one wants to work in the dairy industry anymore. Also all the negativity that farmers face today on social media and misunderstanding about the products they produce. The pandemic has not helped things either. Jody and Dan both had side jobs off the farm to help supplement income just to survive the hard times.

Why do you farm:

Photo via Jolean Putz

Because we are crazy! HAHA! Both Jody and Dan have farmed their entire life. It is the most honest way of living and the most honorable way to live. We love our animals and we live and breathe farming and really don’t know any other way of life. It is a family tradition that we will fight to hold on to it our entire lives if we can. It is a hard life with many ups and downs but the rewards of seeing the new born calf or working with our children and teaching them a very honest way of living, its something you can never put a price on.

What can people do to help the Dairy Industry:

Buy more local products from your local farmers. Buy more milk and cheese in the store. Buy that gallon of chocolate milk instead of that case of pop. Ask a farmer if you can stop by and see the way they farm and really see what goes in to producing that milk and cheese. Let us help you to see things from our point of view. Please don’t take our Wisconsin Farmers for granted. Because each day we are losing more farms.. and they can’t be replaced once they are gone.