Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

County Executive Parisi Announces Program to Help Dairy Farmers Struggling With Drought

August 08, 2012
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
County Executive

Parisi Attended Drought Meeting this Morning with Deputy United States Department of Agriculture Secretary


In response to crippling drought conditions, Dane County is offering a new program that will help struggling dairy farmers feed their livestock while cleaning up area lakes, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today. 


“This summer’s extreme drought has resulted in significant crop damage, with some estimates suggesting up to 70% of the crops intended to feed cows have been lost,” Parisi said.  “Our hard working dairy cows need quality feed to keep making milk and under this new effort, we hope to help some of our farmers reduce the cost of buying forage this winter.”


Under this new effort, Dane County farmers could sign-up to receive financial assistance to plant their fields in the coming weeks with small grains like barley, oats, or winter wheat and harvest it this fall to ensure their cattle would have feed this winter. 


These crops would grow through the winter months for a harvest in the spring, resulting in an estimated 2,000 tons of forage feed for livestock while reducing spring run-off and erosion that results in pollutants entering the county’s waterways.


“While recent rains have helped some areas, the damage from this summer’s drought was already done to many of our farm fields,” Parisi said.  “This effort will help farmers who would otherwise need to spend a lot buying feed all winter –unanticipated costs that unfortunately could harm our county’s dairy industry.” 


Parisi noted there are nearly 400 dairy farms in county –an industry that supports an estimated 4,000 jobs with an annual economic impact of $700 million dollars. 


Keeping fields full in the summer and fall will also help keep area lakes clean.  Some fields are already bare due to the drought, their crops turned over for corn silage.  This early harvest has left fields vulnerable to increased phosphorus erosion from significant rainfall events.  Phosphorus is the leading cause of unsightly algae blooms in area lakes.


Under the program, farmers could plant be on up to 30 of their acres lost to the drought.  The grains must be used for forage feed of livestock and cannot be harvested for grain.

The total funding available to farmers through the program is $30,000 and participation is first come, first serve.  Those interested need to contact the Dane County Department of Land and Water Resources – Division of Land Conversation at 608-224-3730.


Parisi met this morning with United States Deputy Agriculture Secretary Rebecca Blue to discuss the ongoing collaborative response to this summer’s drought.  At that meeting, Parisi discussed the county’s new program it will offer to farmers, and briefed the Deputy Secretary on steps the county has taken to assist farm families facing the affects of Dane County’s historic drought.

# # #

Back to Press Releases