To the Editor: Scale down the dairy program at university

The University of Kentucky sold off their large dairy herd, now the University of Minnesota has followed suit. This is the fourth university to quit “Big Dairying.” The interesting part is that the university was given 436 acres of land in the early 1900s. Even they could not make it with all their donations and financial support. You can’t teach an ag model that is not financially and environmentally sustainable. If it fails in the real world and sets students up to call a suicide hotline for farmers, what is the point of the “modern” mega dairy?

July 23, the University of Minnesota-Crookston auctioned off its entire dairy herd. This was done in conjunction with the ending of their dairy program. The university will consolidate its operations around the state. The Northwest Regional Outreach and Research Center’s decision to sell its 235 head of dairy cattle was the result of budget cuts and determining how to best serve the UM campuses by eliminating duplication in programs. This decision saves UMC about $300,000 annually, but will result in a job loss of six to seven. The university is considering a proposal to expand its beef and sheep programs and start a new, small-scale dairy program with 30 to 40 milking cows.

Such a dairy model encourages economic growth in rural communities. We need more farmers and their small dairies to support the local infrastructure. We need to repair the damage “Modern Mega Dairy Models” have inflicted on the agricultural landscape.

Susan Turner

Warren, Ill.

From the Aug. 11-17, 2010 issue

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