A Chance to Change the System

March 3, 2011 04:21 AM

Gorrell   Patron, Patrona,Jessie 12 14 10Glenn Gorrell

East Smithfield, Pa.

Gorrell Dairy LLC is home to 670 cows and 610 heifers.



*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.

Editor’s note: Gorrell is president of the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania.

If you’re in the dairy business, this is going to be a very important year for dairy policy as Congress gears up to write the 2012 farm bill.

It’s a very tough job to get 55,000 independent business owners to come to a consensus they can take to Washington. But that’s exactly what has to happen in order for us to get the results we need. The last thing we need to do is to send many different plans from a bunch of splinter groups and demonstrate to policymakers that we can’t get a consensus worth their heeding, and ultimately get nothing.

We all know that the system is broken. The question is: Can we all support the most popular plan out there, the National Milk Producers Federation’s Foundation for the Future? We realize that it will look somewhat different in the end, but there has to be a starting point.

In the next months as the price pendulum swings the other way, let’s not lose our focus on what needs to be done. The U.S. and our price-support system cannot do the balancing for the entire world market. We also have to be proactive in making products that the world wants to buy, which is not necessarily the same produced to sell to the government.

This is our chance to try to change an antiquated system that has not worked or helped us. The dairy industry is constantly changing, and we have outgrown the old legislation. We all need to get involved and be engaged in dialogue with our fellow dairy producers, our cooperatives, farm bureaus, and our state’s professional dairy manager groups. It’s easy to complain about the milk price and harder to talk about a fix, but that is the conversation that needs to occur today.

Let’s not forget the conversations we need to have with our congressmen and senators. Once a consensus is on the floor, we need to let them know we support that legislation and how it will help the dairy operations in their district and state that put food on your table and thousands of other tables. Give them a phone call, an e-mail or even a visit in their district or Washington office. These are all important.

One of the most important things to remember is that the people who buy and consume your products spend a lot of time expressing their opinion to Congress. So if you do not want what the processors are promoting, you will have to speak, and speak loudly.


Gorrell's January Prices  
Milk (3.47% bf, 3.17% prt): $17.46cwt.
Cull cows: $1.27/lb. to $1.31/lb. dressed
Springing heifers: $1,100-$1,300/head
Alfalfa hay (milk cow): $190/ton
Cottonseed: $265/ton
Corn (meal):  $265/ton
Canola:  $330/ton
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