President Donald Trump's agriculture secretary said Tuesday during a stop in Wisconsin that he doesn't know if the family dairy farm can survive as the industry moves toward a factory farm model.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters following an appearance at the World Dairy Expo in Madison that it's getting harder for farmers to get by on milking smaller herds.

"In America, the big get bigger and the small go out," Perdue said. "I don't think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability."

Perdue's visit comes as Wisconsin dairy farmers are wrestling with a host of problems, including declining milk prices, rising suicide rates, the transition to larger farms with hundreds or thousands of animals and Trump's international trade wars.

Wisconsin, which touts itself as America's Dairyland on its license plates, has lost 551 dairy farms in 2019 after losing 638 in 2018 and 465 in 2017, according to data from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The Legislature's finance committee voted unanimously last month to spend an additional $200,000 to help struggling farmers deal with depression and mental health problems.


Factory orders drop from trade conflicts

U.S. factory activity hit a decade low last month in the face of President Donald Trump's trade conflicts, adding to a weakening picture of the global economy.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said Tuesday that its manufacturing index shrank for a second straight month to 47.8% in September, down from 49.1% in August. Any reading below 50 signals that the sector is contracting.

Investors on Wall Street responded by dumping stocks, given that the slowdown in manufacturing fanned fears that growth might be slowing more than expected and could squeeze corporate earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had been up early in the day, was down about 300 points in mid-afternoon trading.

Trump's nearly 15-month trade war with China and his tariffs on steel, aluminum and other products were intended to help U.S. manufacturers. But his confrontational trade policies have so far had the opposite effect and helped spur the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates in September for a second time this year.


VW sales drop in September

Volkswagen of America said Tuesday that sales fell 12 percent in September, despite an increase in the number of SUVs sold.

SUV sales were weighed down by the number of cars sold in the month as Golf, Jetta, and Passat posted declines, according to the German automaker that has a production plant in Chattanooga.

The Chattanooga-made Atlas SUV recorded a 41 percent increase in sales last month to 6,064 units, VW reported.

But only 314 units of the Passat midsize sedan, also made in Chattanooga, were reported sold last month as the company ramps up production for a redesigned Passat.

Total vehicle sales were 26,947 for the month. For the year, Volkswagen of America has sold 278,155 vehicles, up 4.5 percent, the company reported.