Dairy Today Readers Respond
Readers Offer Their Thinking on Dairy Crisis
Jun 05, 2009
Just read the article "Dairy Crisis Demands New Thinking." Very interesting! My question as a dairy farmer is, what are we to do and how can we get the price of milk up? It's interesting that there are a few ideas out there which like you stated take months to even begin to take action---I would like a few suggestions on how to hang on until the price goes up! You can delay paying bills for 1 or 2 months, what do you do after that? You can invest more money, that you have to pay back before you really get on your feet, for maybe bottling your own milk, make cheese, etc. But what if you're only a few years from paying the mortgage off and/or retiring? Every month really counts at this point! Dairy farmers need help to come up with a plan and then we ALL need to stick together. Thanks for the article. Now we need the action before its too late! Thanks again.
Barb, PA dairy farm wife
We milk 800 cows on our Upstate N.Y. family farm and we are currently borrowing over $50,000.00 each month to pay our regular monthly expenses while receiving around $10. About 6 miles north of us in Canada , my cousins who have a Dairy farm in Quebec, are receiving over $28 per hundred for their milk. The price of milk in the stores in Canada costs the same; sometimes less, for consumers as it does in the U.S. Yet , retailers continue to make money there. The Quota system seems to be working fine. In fact, it's the one thing that Canadians are quite proud of.
I don't see any other solution to solve this on-going epidemic, due to the fact that cows make milk everyday without the ability to start and stop upon request and because fresh milk cannot be stored for any length of time. These factors have allowed Dairy Producers to be taken advantage of in this country for years. Anyone ; regardless of occupation , who lives in or nearby a Dairy community is aware of this and is sympathetic to the situation. Regardless of the sympathy of these citizens and the awareness of members of Congress, the observance of this dilemma is in no way helping.
We need action NOW. Vilsack might as well go on vacation. His last quote I read in the newspaper stated that he was not ready to change the pricing system for milk. I'll bet if he had a Dairy Farm he'd be ready to change the pricing system. We need supply management like Canada and we need it now. This isn't rocket science. This also didn't just happen yesterday. Farm Bureau is obviously a joke. The NMPF isn't any better. If they were truly looking out for Dairy Farmer's best interest , we wouldn't be in the situation we're in today.
There's a lot of corruption currently involved in the milk market. Anyone can see that many organizations and political influences have their hands in each others pockets. The potential for millions upon millions of dollars to be "stolen" from farmers has been realized for decades , and until now ; having reached extremes like never seen before, the government has been able to easily turn their back to it, or offer petty loss programs that don't amount to anything.
If the government drags their feet long enough , maybe the eventual loss of 50% of existing Dairy farms will result in an upswing in milk prices and perhaps a new peak in price , during which any surviving farms can begin paying back the thousands and thousands of dollars they borrowed at this time , and everyone will be content until the next round , when the milk price bottoms out once again, following a "surplus".
Try telling the people who work in other occupations across the U.S.; that have lost their jobs during these hard economic times, that they can keep their jobs , but instead of receiving their pay, they will have to borrow money from the bank and pay in at work instead. Then IF things turn around and the company they work for becomes profitable again, they will get paid again, but they'll have to use most of their wages to repay the money they just borrowed from the bank. ( make sense?) That's the kind of logic Dairy Farmers are expected to use.
Dairy Farmers are ready to unite together. The majority of us don't want to expand anymore. Our neighbors don't want us to either. Our government is to blame for allowing the on-going Dairy expansions to take place, the corporate multi-thousand cow operations , and the write-off businesses. You can't blame most farmers for trying to expand. It's been the ONLY way they could survive. Ask most any farmer today if they wish they had more cows to feed and tend to, or if they wish they had a "SMALLER" operation and were paid a fair price for their milk instead. The answer will ALWAYS be smaller.
Look , we're all required to have CAFOs now. ( or at least we all SHOULD be. ) We are already being regulated by DEC. They have our records. The government can use these current CAFOs as a means to regulate the animal units allowed per farm as a way to begin the supply management process. Let's keep the food where the quality control is highest ( here in the U.S. ) in the U.S. If we refuse any imported source of milk in this country to insure quality and safety for our citizens and our children , and regulate our production, there's no reason this problem can't be solved. Quotas used in Canada have no significant impact on prices for milk in the stores for consumers either.
Help the economy?? When Dairy Farmers start getting paid a fair price for their milk with a supply management system, you know how they'll spend their money? Instead of expanding they'll be...... Replacing their worn out equipment. Fixing their fallen down barns. Improving housing conditions for animals ( pleasing animal rights activists ) Building new driveways. Hiring more employees (allowing workers more time off - like normal working hours). State jobs wouldn't allow employees to work the hours farmers do. They'd say it was "inhumane" or "impossible" ... Dairy Farmers would spend money to IMPROVE their farms instead of EXPANDING them. The improvements made on the aesthetics of Dairy Farms would help create a positive image of the industry, thus resulting in even greater sales of milk products. How many ways did I just describe helping the economy?? Help us Jim. You're in the public eye. I can't put it any simpler than black and white. We don't need any more "band-aids." We need supply management. We put a man on the moon, but can't help Dairy Farmers... disgusting.
Thank you for your time,