Politics in Our Pocketbooks

Published on: 11:53AM Feb 18, 2011

DonaldVanHofwegenBy Donald Van Hofwegen

Van Hofwegen and his wife, Ingrid, milk 2,700 Holsteins in Stanfield, Ariz.

There is plenty going on in the area of dairy policy and politics. National Milk Producers Federation is introducing different production management programs for the farm bill. Foundation for the Future is being introduced. The idea of a production management program is not something that I am in favor of. I don’t believe the government is capable of regulation in our industry. It needs to be up to us as good businessmen to continue to look for better and more efficient ways to be successful.

The latest regulation we are facing is SPCC spill prevention and containment control. Any fuel or oil tanks larger than 500 gln. must be located in a containment area. This has just been included in dairy and agriculture. It is going to create some added expense because we are going to have to relocate all of our fuel tanks and build the proper containment system.
Another area we are being affected by is dust control. Dust monitors are being set up around our area, and fines are being issued. This means we will have to do more road maintenance, which includes using more fuel and more labor, not to mention the amount of water that is being consumed to keep the dust down. I agree with keeping pollution down, but the costs keep going up, limiting us in areas we can cut.
In January, we were notified that USDA is implementing a new rigorous milk testing program. This test is supposed to test for more antibiotics and residue in milk. I do agree 100% with maintaining a quality product off of our dairy. I just hope this is done in a manner that doesn’t create a panic for the consumer. We have to make sure that it is done in a way that will not allow for huge recalls in the milk and cheese supply.
Immigration will always be something that I will be watching. It is up to me to make sure our dairy maintains integrity in our hiring practices and continues to be sensitive to the needs of the employee.
Another area that is affecting our pocketbooks this year is the corn price. The government’s assistance for ethanol has continued to drive up corn. I just pray the milk price will continue to do what it is doing, and our pocket books will end up healthy at the end of the year.