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Bonnie and Vance Haugen’s small dairy farm weathered nearly three decades of relentless market forces, shifting government policies and the unpredictable dictates of nature and biology. But 2020 was the year that almost killed this family operation.

“Prices were crashing,” Bonnie Haugen said, recalling the chaos in the U.S. food supply that accompanied the early weeks of last spring’s COVID-19 lockdown. “We couldn’t sell steers, we couldn’t sell bull calves. There was a two- to three-week period where we really didn’t know what was going to happen. We didn’t think we’d have to go under but it was an option we put on the table.”

Author: Patrick Condon