In late January last year, dairy farmers filled a pub in the tiny town of Greenwald, Minnesota (population 238). Organisers from the Land Stewardship Project – a sustainable agriculture nonprofit – expected 50 people to attend, but 130 showed up from all corners of the state.
Dr Richard Levins, professor emeritus of applied economics at the University of Minnesota, addressed the event, which served as part elegy for the thousands of small family-owned dairies lost in recent years and part rallying cry for those remaining, despite the odds.
Across the US, dairy farmers have struggled beneath the weight of an industry-wide economic crisis. The cause is the massive overproduction of milk by large dairy operations, which has saturated the market, driving prices down well below the cost of production.