On the whole, the nation’s dairy farms have never been more despairing, with milk consumption steadily decreasing since the 1970’s, but a new generation of farmers are giving the industry a new flare. The average age of today’s dairy farmers has risen to an all-time high of 52 and as these farmers prepare for retirement, and the price of milk continues to fluctuate radically, many are forced to sell their herds and land.
Luckily, as one generation of dairy farmers is buying out a new generation of eco-conscious farmers is rearing up and ready to start milking. But, this isn’t your grandmother’s milk! Seeing an increase in demand for alternatives such as soy and coconut milk, young farmers like John and Mary Jo Palmer of Udderly Nuts Farm in La Farge, Wisconsin are retrofitting old dairy farms and constructing large greenhouses to begin production of organic coconuts.
“My family has been milking on this farm for 4 generations before me,” said John, 27. “Mary Jo and I are so grateful to be able to keep the family business running with our new spin on it.”
Until now there has been no substantial production of coconuts anywhere in the continental United States, due to the inability of such plants to grow in any of our climates. However the Palmers are optimistic that coconuts are the future of Wisconsin dairy farms.
“At first everyone laughed in our faces. They thought we were crazy. But you cannot deny that these days the demand for locally grown, fair trade, gluten free, lactose free, free range, paleo, organic coconut milk is much higher than regular old cow’s milk. Plus we heat our greenhouses with the methane from the old milking cows so we are essentially carbon neutral. In a few decades when global warming starts to really heat up we will be in prime real estate for coconuts and who will be laughing then!”
The Palmers are not the first Wisconsinites to start farming coconuts. The idea was originally brought to the state by Paul Willmore, better known as “Hippie Gary,” who began farming coconuts to supply his Tiki Coconut Drink stand at Lollapalooza and other summer music festivals in the Great Lakes region.
However not everyone is excited about the shift in Wisconsin agriculture. The Wisconsin Dairy Council, famously remembered for their role in banning margarine in the state in the 1920’s, kicked off their “CocoNOT in Wisconsin” campaign last month.
“We will not allow these young hipsters to undermine the integrity of our great state and make a mooockery, I mean mockery, of America’s Dairyland!” said one council member who wishes to remain anonymous.