No Fan of Today's Policy

February 26, 2012 07:40 PM


DanSiemersDan Siemers

Newton, Wisc.

Dairying with 2,700 cows, Siemers Holsteins has been operating at the same site for more than 120 years.



**Extended comments highlighted in blue

There are lots of hot-button issues to talk about when we get into politics! It’s interesting how some issues most of us can agree on; others, like the ethanol blenders’ credit, are very regional; and other issues are so polarizing that you can hardly bring them up in polite conversation.
I think most of us can agree, on some level, that something needs to be done about our immigration policy. Quite honestly, I believe our industry—and our nation’s economy, for that matter—would practically cease to exist without our hardworking, dedicated immigrant employees across our nation. In most cases, they have come here looking for better opportunities for their families. The trouble is, this is one of those issues that looks difficult to do much about, at least nationally, as neither political party has the stomach to appear soft on immigration.
Most politicians, off the record, know that something more should be done on this. But that’s as far as it goes, as it just isn’t a good political risk, and we all know a politician’s No. 1 job is to get re-elected!
Now let’s get to an area that has more of us divided. While most would agree that the 2012 farm bill will need to be more budget-friendly (read: cheaper), many of the dairy producers that I talk to don’t seem to understand this also includes dairy policy. Many who are against Foundation for the Future, now called the Dairy Security Act, will say, "Let’s just keep what we have," or, in other words, defend the status quo.
My problem with that is it seems many in our industry can’t or simply don’t want to remember 2009, when we were in need of good policy. Who really thinks our current price support system is anything worth keeping?!
I mean, seriously, filling caves here with product as we tell our international customers to take their business elsewhere isn’t exactly good business. The Milk Income Loss Contract program is a divisive policy, and it doesn’t do enough to help when we need it, either. I don’t think it will make it into the 2012 farm bill based on its cost.
So, as you can see, I’m not a big fan of our current dairy policy. I’m even less of a fan when we have less of it. What’s the next step: an $8 federal price support? I understand that some have reservations about parts of the Dairy Security Act, but I firmly believe that in its entirety, it is worlds better than what we have, as well as being budget-friendly enough to be approved.
The reality is we either stay with our old policy (on a diet) or we go with the Dairy Security Act, as there just aren’t other options out there. It’s time as an industry that we get behind this policy with one voice to make it happen, because I believe our industry may be only one 2009 away from dairy farming resembling the mass consolidation we saw in hog farming. Sorry to get so serious on this topic, but this is vital to our industry—and we can do something about it.

Siemers' Most Recent Prices  
Milk (3.76% bf, 3.29% prt) $20.16/cwt. (after hauling)
Cull cows $50-$78/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,300-$1,800/head
Alfalfa hay (milk cow) $250/ton
Cottonseed $298/ton
Ground corn $227/ton
Soymeal (48%) $300/ton


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