PINE ISLAND, Minn. – Following a frustrating Monday morning  April 10 at his family’s dairy, Mark Berg sat in the skidloader and recorded a video about the state of the dairy economy and the toll it has taken on their farm. He posted the video to his personal Facebook page.
    “We’re not asking to make a million … but, you literally work day in and day out all the time for nothing. … We’re taking loans just to pay bills. That’s literally the current situation for dairy farming. We’ve got literally farmers committing suicide all the time,” Berg said during the video that runs over five minutes.
    Although Berg said he posted the video to give his local friends an idea of the dire state of the industry, the video has reached far greater distances than Berg ever imagined. The video has now been viewed over 543,000 times and shared over 7,500 times, with over 1,200 comments and 2,900 reactions. Berg has also garnered attention from local, national and international media outlets.
    “It was just something I had to get off my chest,” Berg said. “I didn’t plan what I was going to say. There was a lot of truth there. It’s reality. It wasn’t made up.”
    Berg also said he made the video more for his parents’ sake than his own. The 26 year old works for his parents, Tom and Penny, who milk 200 cows near Pine Island, Minn.
    “They’ve been working for 40 years and the problem is they’re not worth anything unless they sell everything and that’s not the way it should be,” Berg said.
    Within minutes of posting his video, Berg said it had been shared several times. Within four days, so many people had viewed it that the family started receiving phone calls from people asking how they could help or to show their support; however, Berg’s parents did not know about his social media vent. So, Berg gathered them after lunch on the couch to watch it together.
    “I was so shocked. It was almost like I was speechless.” Penny said. “The first comment I made was, ‘Mark, you sure did use the F word a lot – because I don’t like it – but wow am I proud of you.’”
    Then, Berg started receiving media requests. Several local television stations and newspaper reporters came to the farm for in-person interviews. The Minneapolis Star Tribune also covered the viral post. Several large news outlets, including the Detroit Free Press, Washington Post, New York Times and London Daily Mail, picked up the story.
    “When it was in the New York Times, then it hit me and made me think somebody was listening now,” Berg said.
    He also did interviews with National Public Radio and went live on Fox Business. Perhaps the biggest interview the family did was with Dean Reynolds for a segment on CBS Nightly News.
    During one of these interviews, one reporter, originally from New York City, admitted he had not ever had much interaction with animals, including never petting a cat, much less a cow.
    “That really opened my mind as to why farming is having such an uphill battle. I knew there was a gap between my farm and someone’s table, but I didn’t realize how big it was. The fact people have never even petted a cat to me is mind blowing,” Berg said.
    From all this attention, the Bergs have received stacks of letters in the mail. Berg has received thousands of personal messages on Facebook in addition to the comments on the video. One woman drove from Wisconsin and showed up at their dairy to show her support and share her own family’s dairy trials from years ago. Even Governor Tim Walz called and had a conversation with Berg.
    “The response has been unremarkably positive and supportive from people from every walk of life – from farmers to someone who has never stepped foot on a farm. They all want to help. Everybody wants answers and a solution,” Berg said.
    But, the solution is not an easy one.
    “I wish I could say here’s the problem and here’s the answer, but I can’t. I don’t have the answer. It’s a lot of different things. Some political, but majority is supply and demand,” Berg said.
    An overwhelming amount of people asked the Berg family to start a Go Fund Me page where money could be donated to help with farm expenses. But, the Bergs insisted that was not the point of the video.
    “One thing I think I did through the video and through messages is the education part. There’s no class in school that teaches you where your food came from. You just sit down and you eat it. I think that’s what’s happening. In the United States, we’re [the] 2% feeding 98%,” Berg said.
    Because of the persistent requests, the Bergs started a page for donations; however, they are going to use a large portion of it to benefit the dairy community, such as giving to the rural help hotlines or programs to help others in the dairy community cope with the stress. They also would like to use the money to get better packaging for milk in schools.
    “We’re going to try to do something good with it more than just keep it ourselves,” Berg said.
    Although their farm is still facing one of the most difficult years it has ever faced, the viral post caused a distraction from the stress.
    “It took our mind off the struggles for a little bit,” Berg said. “And, I think that was a good thing.”