Farmer wants consumers to pay a premium for products made with eco-friendly practices

A Wisconsin farmer says he would like to see consumers pay a premium for farm products produced with the methods consumers are demanding.

Dairy Farmer Tim Keller milks 325 cows three times a day in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, and has used cover crops and other conservation practices on his hilly ground for around 15 years. “If we could get a value for our product to be able to implement these practices, it would do us all a lot better.”

Keller says rye and barley cover crops reduced erosion and have lowered phosphorus levels in a nearby stream 40%, but he says doing the right thing costs money. “Everybody wants water quality, a greener planet, however, you want to word it, but we’re looking on it as an economic situation, too, so if it economically makes sense for us, we’re willing to do it.”

Keller tells Brownfield most consumers don’t realize their retail prices went up over the years, but his milk check hasn’t changed much. “In 1983 I remember, this was two years out of school, but there was thirteen dollar milk and they were boasting about it then. Well, just back in spring, was it February or March of 2019, we’re talking thirteen dollar milk so we’re talking 37 years later and we’re sitting at the same price.”

Keller believes consumers would pay more if they fully understood what farmers do for the environment.

Keller spoke to Brownfield at the Dairy Strong conference in Madison, Wisconsin.

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