Struggling Dairy Farmers Push for Control of Milk Supply

April 5, 2019 10:54 AM
 
Some dairy farmers advocated Tuesday for controlling the supply of milk to increase prices as producers and officials discussed how to support the struggling industry at a two-day summit in Vermont.

Some dairy farmers advocated Tuesday for controlling the supply of milk to increase prices as producers and officials discussed how to support the struggling industry at a two-day summit in Vermont.

Dairy farmers are in their fifth year of low milk prices. Vermont has lost more than 400 dairy farms since 2008, with the total dropping from 1,100 11 years ago to 694 last month. Wisconsin lost 691 dairy farms last year alone.

“There is so much at stake if we don’t turn this around for our rural communities,” said Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts.

About 240 people attended the summit in Jay, Vermont, including 125 farmers and the New York agriculture commissioner.

The presentations from farmers and industry experts included how to run a dairy in a global market, how to diversify dairy operations, and how local dairies affect local economies.

“They buy supplies,” said Tebbetts of the farmers, “they support stores, they’re on the fire department, they are the EMTs, they’re people who volunteering, they’re on select boards, school boards and when a farm leaves some of that goes away.”

Some farmers created a petition seeking support for a national milk supply management program to disseminate at the conference.

The details of the program have not been determined, but it would set a base level of production for each farm and create incentives for farmers not to overproduce, Kara O’Connor of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. That could be met with opposition since it could raise the price of milk for consumers — even if only a small amount.

“We’re inviting people to consider whether consumers might pay a few cents more for a gallon of milk in exchange for saving hundreds of dairy farms per year and paying less in taxes for government dairy programs,” said O’Connor, who spoke at the event.

Other groups suggested compensation for farmers for their environmental stewardship; educating consumers about farms, possibly through television segments featuring farmers talking about their operations; and subsidizing farms with tourism dollars.

“We have a huge tourism industry,” said farmer Leon Corse. “We need to somehow take some of those tourism dollars to subsidize dairy to get us through this issue that we’re having now because if dairy dies in 20 years we’re going to wish that we had saved it because tourism is going to die, too.”

Back to news


Comments

 
Spell Check

Steve
Lubbock , TX
4/5/2019 10:33 PM
 

  I find it interesting that farmers want less government until they are in trouble. I also think it’s clear farmers can’t self regulate the supply side of commodity production even in a fairly concentrated industry. In most industries the number of producers is regulated by the non profitable ones going out of business. That never been the case with farmers as the government does enviably step in. Usually when a Democrat is in the White House. Clearly Trump’s not going to help you or his little toad Ag secretary Sonny. Unfortunately a lot of bad things are going to happen in the rural communities before this is over.

 
 
Lifelong Dairyman
Ridott, IL
4/6/2019 09:09 PM
 

  If you want a livable wage from dairying, close the border and stop farms from hiring illegals. Every 'undocumented immigrant' working a 'job no American will do' makes this American milking 60 cows with just his wife and children worth less. Only to enrich the 'family farm' of 10000 cows who needs an interpreter to get the daily work done as cheap as they can.

 
 

Corn College TV Education Series

2014_Team_Shot_with_Logo

Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!

Markets

Market Data provided by QTInfo.com
Brought to you by Beyer
Close