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Farm Bill Impacts Local Dairy Farmers

The nearly 1-trillion-dollar Farm bill has passed through the U.S Senate and now moves on to the President. If signed, the impact of the bill will be felt locally by hundreds of dairy producers.
Jeff Handschke has had an up and down year on his dairy farm in New London.

        "It wasn't very kind to us," he says. "All feed prices were kind of high."

The news of the farm bill moving through the senate Tuesday, was a welcome sign.

        "It just makes it a better playing ground for us to work on," says Handschke. "We manage our own risks that way and that's what I like about it."

Agricultural expert Kevin Jarek says the end of guaranteed agricultural subsidies, and the decrease in crop insurance prices, will impact farmers across the board.

        "The changes that have been implemented here affect all dairy producers," he says. "Because all dairy producers are producing crops or they're buiying crops if they can't grow them to put into that dairy cow to produce milk that makes the state number one in cheese."

The most direct impact of the farm bill would still be on grain producers, but dairy farmers rely on grain to feed the estimated 38,000 cattle in Outagamie County.

        "We do grow a substantial number of grains here," says Jarek. "But a lot of it's used for the livestock industry to support the dairy."

Handschke says the bill gives him more control over his product, which is something he doesn't take lightly.

        "It's putting all the risk on our shoulders so we can choose our level of coverages and things like that," he says. "Leave it to the experts who own the operation and not someone in Washington, that's what I like about it."

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