Viral video brings to light struggles of American dairy farmers

Video highlights struggles of dairy farmers

Last Updated Apr 16, 2019 7:24 PM EDT

Pine Island, Minn. — There's a viral video bringing attention to the struggles of American dairy farmers. It was posted by a farmer in Minnesota where the median income dropped in 2018 from about $43,000 to less than $15,000.

From Pine Island, from deep within a proud way of life, you can hear a cry for help from the heart.

Dairy farmer Mark Berg went on Facebook last week to vent his frustration bordering on desperation.

"Literally just got done arguing with my dad — just yelling, screaming — back and forth," Berg said. "And, it never used to be that way."

"It's not about having money," Berg said in the Facebook video. "But when you literally work day in and day out all the time to -- for nothing. You gain nothing. We've gained nothing."

To the Dairy Community, I know you are hurting, hang in there if you can. The average that a Minnesota Dairy Farm made for the year 2018 was $15,000, we are working non stop to be below the poverty line

Posted by Mark Berg on Monday, April 8, 2019

Years of depressed prices have pushed many dairy farmers — especially small ones — to the brink of financial ruin.

"It isn't fair," Berg said in the video, wiping away tears.

Consumer tastes have shifted and many farms have not adjusted — producing rivers of the real thing even as plant-based substitutes have taken 15 percent of the milk market. Milk prices are now 33 percent lower than they were five years ago.

"This isn't about making money. This isn't about money. I just want a fair cut, you know," Berg is heard in the Facebook video, visibly shaken. "I just want, I just want, I just want my family to be happy again."

Berg's Facebook post has now been viewed more than 440,000 thousand times. CBS News asked Berg about the reaction he has received.

"All corners of the world — South Africa, Australia, New Zealand," Berg said. "I've gotten message from farmers globally."

Mark's parents, Tom and Penny, have been dairy farmers for 40 years and have 200 cows on 6 acres. They have no savings and no Facebook account.

Tom said it was very emotional to see the video and was asked if he would encourage his son to stay in the business "For years and years, um... I guess, I guess I would, you know," he said.

"Your goal for your children is to do what they want to do and for them to love what they do," Penny added.

They don't know if there is a solution to their problem, but it's clear the Bergs love what they do and would miss it more than they can say.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.