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Local dairy farmers fight to survive as nation's largest supplier ends 100 contracts

Sayland Dairy

Dean Foods sent letters to more than 100 dairy farmers in eight states, including Tennessee, saying their contracts would end on May 31st. Now, area dairy farmers are preparing for an uncertain future.

Mike Saylor of Sayland Dairy doesn't work with with Dean Foods but is concerned about the trend toward corporate control over the dairy industry.

"We're trying to get some things done about it but we haven't gotten anything accomplished yet," Saylor told WCYB. "We're trying to get on a quota system. The bigger people don't want that because they still like growth."

Dean Foods attributed the decision to a high supply of milk, new producers entering the industry and a decline in demand for milk in America.

Small dairy farmers are at the mercy of large suppliers who are often their only client.

"In a situation like that, if we had a local dairyman looking for help, that's a tough one to solve right now because really what they would need would be another outlet for their milk," John Hamrick, a UT Extension agent said. "We don't have those outlets."

Saylor says consumers can help small dairies by buying local and drinking more milk.

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