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Calif. drought could help Wis. farmers

By Emily Kumlien, ekumlien@wisctv.com
Published On: Feb 26 2014 10:17:03 PM CST

MADISON, Wis. -

President Barack Obama announced help with millions of dollars in livestock and food pantry aid but California farmers say that help won't do them much good now.

But could that drought 2,000 miles away actually help farmers here in the Badger state?

"I hate to say that someone's misfortune is going to be our benefit," said Pat O'Brien, a fourth generation farmer. His family's dairy farm has been on Seminole and Lacy roads since 1899.

Two time zones away, O'Brien said the Badger State will get the business when California can't produce.

"Since last year we have seen some good reasonable milk prices, and I think with the problems in California, that is just going to continue. California has to buy all of their feed and they don't have the investment in the infrastructure like we do," O'Brien said.

Dairy farmers in Wisconsin went through a severe drought in 2012 so they can understand what California is going through right now, but they do say there are distinct advantages of having a dairy farm in Wisconsin over California.

“Wisconsin is Americas' dairyland for a reason. When something like this happens to California with the drought they are having, it exemplifies what we have going for us," said Casey Langan, spokesman for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

Back at the O'Brien farm, workers will retool their facility with the extra cash hoping to ensure it is around for generations to come.

"We have the cows, we have the people, we have the climate and the feed, which is a big thing. We have a lot of advantages here in Wisconsin," O'Brien said.

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