Opinions on Everything

February 26, 2012 07:40 PM


LarryHancockLarry Hancock

Muleshoe, Texas

A dairy pioneer on the Texas High Plains, Prairie View Dairy milks 4,200 Holsteins.



**Extended comments highlighted in blue

This month’s topic offers a lot to talk about. There are many who have a better understanding than I do of the issues. Like most farmers, though, I have opinions.
The upcoming farm bill is the first topic that comes to mind. Now is the time to make a few needed changes. The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Foundation for the Future plan is the best option that I have seen. It addresses many of the issues that need to be fixed.
It has the tools to offer a safety net for all producers. Its margin insurance plan is the most cost-effective way to accomplish this with the least cost to the government. It can help us to establish a more stable price. It helps to ensure that the industry is better positioned to effectively compete in the international markets, although competing in the international market has another set of risks of its own.
Feed prices are a real struggle for our farm this year with the continued drought and the suggestion that it will continue through the summer. Ethanol mandates need to be changed, slowed or delayed for a few years. Stopping the ever-increasing use of corn in ethanol production and allowing for the science of cellulosic ethanol production to catch up should take some of the strain off of the feed markets.
Labor is a large cost in our operation. Any changes that affect labor or the availability of good, reliable, trustworthy labor are a concern. One of the biggest concerns I have with the immigration policies that are being discussed is that I don’t think businesses should be the lone enforcers of immigration policy. We need a legal immigrant labor force that can work in this country to do the work they are needed for.
Food safety is a continuing concern and effort on our farm along with animal welfare. These issues need to be addressed by the entire industry as well as individual producers. Efforts are being made to express farmers’ care and concern for our animals to the consumer. This is
being worked out by NMPF and Dairy Management Inc. through informing the consumer and working to educate our representatives and the media.
Always in mind are tax issues that make it hard or even impossible to have our farms pass from one generation to the next. Farming is a great way of life. I want my children to be able to continue to farm if that is their desire.
An issue that is a local concern and is greatly affecting our ability to farm is the limited water and the regulations that are being put in place to limit the use for agriculture. Although rules are needed, there should be time to allow for changes to take place in our farming practices and the way that water is used and crops are produced.
There are too many aspects of policy and regulations that affect my pocketbook to talk about them all here. I am sure that I don't have a full understanding of them all. I am grateful for the leaders in NMPF and the cooperatives that watch out and help direct changes, allowing me to concentrate on the production of a safe, wholesome and deliciously natural food.


Hancock's Most Recent Prices  
Milk (3.66% bf, 3.14% prt) $16.99/cwt.
Cull cows $76/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,500/head
Alfalfa hay (milk cow) $345/ton contracted
Cottonseed $330/ton
Ground corn $253/ton
Canola $278/ton


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