June Dairy Month celebrates dairy farmers hard work

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WATERLOO, Wis. (WMTV)--- June is a time to celebrate the dairy industry as it is National Dairy Month, but UW-Expert Joy Kirkpatrick has spent years studying the industry and said the industry is struggling with low milk prices, "It's hard for people if they have borrowed a lot of money, or just starting -- they may not have the equity position to ride out this low milk price."

Kirkpatrick said, "farmers who have seen success do a great job of communicating with everyone. Their lenders, their families and staff."

The Crave Brothers Farmstead is one farm in Waterloo that has seen success as they turned to support their artisan cheese making business. Jordan Crave, a second generation farmer, said, "I pray and I think we have to be willing to change. We can't get entranced in our old ways. We have to continue to innovate."

The farm has more than 2,000 milking cows that are milked every day every eight hours. That milk is then turned into cheese and other dairy products. The first cheese the farm produced was mozzarella.

"Mozzarella was huge when we started producing it and we saw a way we could add to the production and so we started making our mozzarella and now it is award-winning mozzarella cheese," George Crave, Crave Brother's Farmstead manager of cheese factory, said.

Kirkpatrick said that she believes there are still opportunities in the dairy industry and there is still a bright future despite the recent trend with falling milk prices. "Farmers have so many different skills, they will find something to continue working and as long as the passion is there I believe this industry has many opportunities."

Turning the farm into a full cycle sustainable farm is how the Crave Brother's Farmstead has approached this challenge. Growing cash crops, cover crops to feed the animals, using manure for fertilizer and also using it combined with leftover cheese waste to turn into energy to power the farm.

"Farming today in America has the lowest carbon footprint," Charlie Crave said.

Success does not come without challenges, George Crave said there were times they did not know if they were going to be successful if they didn't adapt. "That is why we turned to cheese making, we knew we had to adapt to the changing industry."

More information about June Dairy Month, click here.

More information about the Crave Brother's Farmstead, click here.