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Farmers find new buyers for their milk after dairy contracts terminated

Nearly all farmers have new buyers

LA CRESCENT, Minn. (WKBT) - Several dairy farmers received word recently that their contracts with processors wouldn't be renewed past May 1.

But now, one local farmer got some good news about the future of his farm.

Richard Johnson is a dairy farmer in La Crescent Minnesota.

About a month ago, however, he received word that his milk agreement with Grassland Dairy of Canada would not be renewed.

Fast forward to last week, when he learned that Agropur, another company out of Canada, would begin taking his milk, and he's forever grateful that is farm is safe, for now.

Johnson's 125 cattle are his pride and joy.

"They're actually a part of the family,” Johnson said. “They're like your dog almost."

He still remembers the day about one month ago when he learned devastating news about his farm.

"Shocked, because there was no warning, and all of a sudden, within 29 days, we were no longer going to have a home for our milk,” Johnson said.

From that day on, the Johnsons have been searching for another buyer.

"Agropur was the only one that didn't say no. They said maybe,” Johnson said.

Last week they finally learned Agropur would take Johnson's milk, with help from Grassland Dairy.

"We can sleep again. I mean, we were just nervous otherwise, of course, because we didn't know what the future was,” Johnson said.

Johnson said no one specifically is to blame for Grasslands terminating the contract, but Minnesota Representative Tim Walz released a statement last week placing blame on trade partners, saying, "Any new trade discussions must hold the interests of America's producers as a top priority so that they an continue to feed, fuel and clothe the world."  

While Johnson is relieved for now, he does worry about the outlook for family farms in general.

"If you eliminate the family, you're going to eliminate that tremendous blessing of a cheap food supply,” Johnson said.

But with his dairy farm saved, his pride and joy can continue to thrive.

"Every day is a good day for me,” Johnson said.

The Minnesota Milk Producers Association stated they believe all Minnesota producers have found new buyers for their milk.

In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker announced today that 99 percent of the farms affected by terminated milk contracts here have found new buyers as well.

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