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Local dairy farmer fights back against tariffs Submitted: 07/30/2018
Story By Erin Beu

Local dairy farmer fights back against tariffs
PHILLIPS - People don't get into dairy farming for fame or fortune.

It's a challenging job 365 days a year.

But a battle between the US and China seems to be making that job even harder.

Before Jon Pesko worked on the United Pride Dairy Farm in Phillips, his dad did, and his dad before that.

"You're always trying to leave it better than what you came with," said Pesko.

Even though he co-owns a large farm with 2,400 cows, these days he's working more hours for less profit.

"You start pinching the pocket book," said Pesko.


President Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods led China to retaliate and put tariffs on American products, including milk.

"That automatically lowers our prices on milk," said Pesko.

Pesko has a large enough farm that he can handle the hit for now, but smaller farms haven't been so lucky.

The Trump Administration added a temporary $12 billion program to help offset the estimated $11 billion losses farmers have faced from the tariffs.

"I'm not sure why the American farmers have to pay anytime this happens," said Pesko.

The goal of the program is to help tide farmers over until better trade deals until the US can renegotiate its trade deals with those other countries.

"No matter what we make, it needs to be sold," said Pesko.

Pesko says he won't be happy until tariffs are gone and he can see a bounce back in sales, "The world is hungry and we need to feed that world."

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, last year Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms and about 150 have quit milking cows so far this year.

Pesko hopes the tariffs will end soon or he fears more farms could shut down, too.

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