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Agriculture secretary: No guarantee family dairy farms can survive

Agriculture secretary: No guarantee family dairy farms can survive
© Greg Nash

Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueFederal judge strikes down Trump's cuts on food stamps for unemployed EU's 'farm to fork' demands could mean indigestion for US food exporters Baldwin calls for Senate hearing on CDC response to meatpacking plant coronavirus outbreak MORE warned Tuesday during a trip to Wisconsin that family dairy farms may not survive as the factory farm model moves to overtake them.

Perdue told reporters after attending the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., that dairy farmers in the state are increasingly struggling to make a living wage if they are milking fewer than 100 cows, The Associated Press reported.

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“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue told reporters, according to the AP. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”

The Trump Cabinet official told reporters that the 2018 farm bill will assist farmers, but small farms may still face more difficulty competing. The farm bill aims to reestablish agriculture programs to ensure American farms survive.

More than 550 dairy farms have closed so far this year in Wisconsin, in addition to 638 closing in 2018 and 465 in 2017, according to state data reported by the AP.

The outlet noted that dairy farmers are struggling to make ends meet while milk prices decrease, suicide rates increase, larger farms are gaining more power and the president's trade wars remain ongoing.

The president initiated a trade war against China, accusing the country of unfair trade practices. Exports of dairy solids to China dropped since China enacted retributory tariffs against the U.S. dairy industry, the AP noted, citing an analysis from the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

When asked about the trade war, Perdue told the crowd at a town hall at the expo Tuesday that the Chinese are "cheaters."

“They toyed us into being more dependent on their markets than them on us. That’s what the problem has been,” he said, according to the AP. “They can’t expect to come into our country freely and fairly without opening up their markets.”