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Dairy Farmers Meet in St. Paul for Dairy Day at the Capitol

Posted at: 01/30/2013 4:34 PM
Updated at: 01/30/2013 5:25 PM
By: Naomi Pescovitz

Dozens of Minnesota Milk producers were in St. Paul Wednesday for Dairy Day at the Capitol. Their goal was to connect lawmakers and all Minnesotans to life on the farm.

Part of the agenda for the Minnesota Milk Producers Association is getting a new research and teaching facility built in the state. It could involve the University of Minnesota and would cost several million dollars.
  
"The payout would be that on the farm we would become more efficient with the resources that we have and hopefully we would be able to provide a product at a somewhat lower price or hold the price," said Patrick Lunemann, President of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association.

One of the industry's rising stars is Sadie Frericks of Blue Diamond Dairy in Melrose, Minnesota.

"My husband and I bought this farm on our own and have been, yes, farming by ourselves," Frericks said.

Frericks and her husband have three small children. There are 75 cows on their farm.

At 31 years old, Frericks is young. The average Minnesota farmer is about 58 years old.

"We've actually in our area seen several young people come back to farms and that's really been encouraging, because the average age of farmers in Minnesota is creeping up and so we need young farmers to come back to keep these farms going," Frericks said.

The USDA predicts dairy prices will go up 3.5 to 4.5 percent this year but Lunemann that may not hold true. He says dairy prices likely peaked around the holidays and will go down over the next few months.

The Minnesota Milk Producers Association is also pushing for environmental regulatory reform and tax exemptions on construction materials.

Milk is a more than $5 billion dollar industry in Minnesota.