Stung by Trump’s trade wars, Wisconsin’s milk farmers face extinction

Over the past two years, nearly 1,200 of the state’s dairy farms have stopped milking cows and so far this year, another 212 have disappeared, with many shifting production to beef or vegetables. The total number of herds in Wisconsin is now below 8,000 — about half as many as 15 years ago. In 2018, 49 Wisconsin farms filed for bankruptcy — the highest of any state in the country, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation…

Mr. Trump’s trade approach has pushed many of Wisconsin’s already struggling dairy farmers to the edge. Milk prices have fallen nearly 40 percent over the past five years, the byproduct of economic and technological forces that have made milk easier to produce and state policies that ramped up production and sent prices tumbling.

That has coincided with Mr. Trump’s sweeping tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, which were intended to help American manufacturers but have set off retaliatory tariffs from Mexico, Canada, Europe and China on American dairy products. Most painful for Wisconsin’s dairy farmers has been a 25 percent tariff that Mexico placed on American cheese, which is made with a significant volume of the state’s milk production.