Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Challenging Times Remain for Dutch Dairy Farms in the U.S.

While driving home the other evening an interesting story caught my attention on NPR's Marketplace. It was a story about Dutch dairy families that immigrated to Iowa.  I have been to the Netherlands many times, seen the beautiful Dutch farms, and I have worked with Dutch farmers in Indiana and Ohio. But I was not familiar with those that relocated to Iowa. Sadly, their struggles are the same as those facing Indiana's dairy farmers in recent years.

This new wave of farmers left their successful but limited farms in the Netherlands to build new, bigger, and better farms in the United States.  Unfortunately for some of these farmers, the American dream turned into a nightmare. Skyrocketing feed prices combined with plummeting milk prices to making it impossible to make ends meet.  As stated by Dutch farmer Edward Reuling, referring the last half of the decade:
Cows were more expensive, feed was more expensive. We couldn't make any profit at that time.

Indiana too has seen an influx of Dutch dairy farmers in the past decade.  Some of these farms have weathered the economic storm.  And unfortunately, some have been forced to go back to the Netherlands, as the article states, "penniless."  Let's hope better days are ahead.

A link to the Marketplace story is below:

Program to lure Dutch dairy farmers to U.S. turns sour | Marketplace From American Public Media

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