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PATS Research Summary No. 3

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In the late winter and early spring of 1999, the Program on Agricultural Technology Studies (PATS)2 surveyed over 1,600 of Wisconsin’s dairy farmers. Because the sample was large, was drawn randomly from the Wisconsin Dairy Producers List, and yielded a relatively high response rate (50 percent), the results provide a scientifically reliable snapshot of the Wisconsin dairy farming sector as of the spring of 1999. This report provides an overview of the initial findings of the overall study. The emphasis of this report is on the characteristics of the Wisconsin dairy farming sector, and on the characteristics of the operators and their families. We pay particular attention to Wisconsin dairy farmers’ use of a wide range of dairy and crop production technologies or practices. In this survey, we also included questions about several emerging technologies, like genetically engineered crops and “information technologies” (such as use of computers and the internet, and precision farming). This report summarizes the results for all dairy farms in the sample (usually on the far right hand side of each table). Because dairy farms in Wisconsin are quite diverse, we also disaggregate the results for dairy herds of different size. The tables below report the characteristics of farms in five herd size categories: 1-24 cows, 25 to 49 cows, 50 to 99 cows, 100 to 199 cows, and 200 or more cows. In each case, herd size measures include both milking cows and dry cows. More detailed reports and indepth analyses of specific issues based on the survey will become available over the coming months.