Giving Tuesday has a lot of different meanings for a group of 25 dairy farm families in Green County that are looking at a career change of sorts.
In October, the Co-op received a termination notice from their long-time partner Maple Leaf Cheesemakers, who will stop taking milk from Co-op farmers in early December and leave the plant vacant by year-end. COVID-19 is adding to the challenge of finding temporary homes for farmer’s milk and engaging new cheese company partners to rebuild the business. Today, Will Hughes, a consultant working with the dairy families, announced that they had succeeded in finding homes for the milk – a “minor miracle” given the currently dairy climate.
Overcoming that first obstacle’s just the beginning though. Hughes says to try and make their way through the winter, the coop has launched a “GoFundMe” page to try and generate some funds to help cover heating expenses for the building, maintain insurance on remaining equipment, and basically just get by. The money is not designed to go to the dairy farmers, but instead the infrastructure they’ve worked so hard to build and maintain for their own brand.
Hughes says they are tremendously grateful for the support they’ve received from milk and cheese processors – and the dairy community of Wisconsin as a whole. The dairy farms are having regular meetings to plot out the future of their cooperative, and have received investor interest and cheesemaker interest at joining in their efforts. Hughes says they’re optimistically planning on having those partnerships formally in place by spring of 2021.
For more updates on what’s happening with the dairy farmer movement and their “GoFundMe” efforts – follow these links.