Dairy farmers make one request: competitive milk pricing system

WASHINGTON — More than 100 dairy farmers from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee traveled to Washington, D.C., Dec. 2 to meet with congressional representatives and other officials to present solutions that would end the worst dairy crisis since the Great Depression.

Meetings

Dairy farmers met with members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House Education and Labor Committee and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to urge immediate action to restore fairness in the dairy pricing system, enforce anti-trust laws and ensure that dairy farmers receive a fair price for their product.

Funds distribution

Dairy farmers also called on the USDA to quickly distribute emergency assistance aid that was authorized by Congress and President Obama under the 2010 Agriculture Appropriations Bill in October.

Debbie Windecker, a dairy farmer from Frankfort, N.Y., and a member of United States Dairy Farmers and Friends, said she and others want to know why there is such a large disparity between the price consumers pay for milk and the price paid to farmers.

Windecker added that nationwide, the average cost of production is about $18.00 per hundredweight, far below the average $10.78 per hundredweight dairy farmers received in the first 10 months of 2009.

She said as a result, many farmers are facing record debts and many have either sold their herds or have been forced to leave the dairy business entirely.

Joel Greeno, a dairy farmer from Kendall, Wisc. also attended the meeting and asked that officials overhaul a broken milk pricing system.

Overhaul requested

Farm Aid has met with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, delivering petitions signed by more than 13,000 consumers and farmers calling for the USDA to establish a floor price for milk that covers farmers’ cost of production. Farm Aid also has made emergency assistance funds available to dairy farmers.

Farm Aid has made it clear dairy farmers don’t want a bailout — they simply seek a fair and competitive pricing system that allows them to stay on the land and support their families.

20 Comments

  1. Jwd says:

    I hope the government will get up and change the milk pricing system. It only benefits large corporations and not small family dairies. While they’re at it, start letting farmers sell their milk direct to consumers. Get the facts yourself on how little the farmers get on how much milk is sold in the store.

  2. John says:

    There is nothing wrong with the milk pricing system. The problem is the high cost producers whine and complain that it is not their fault that they are losing money. Smaller dairies tend to be higher cost but fail to realize it. They bury their head in the sand to that fact and chose to beg government to solve their problems. High cost producers need to become better business people and do what is necessary to lower their cost of production or else quit and do something else. If they can’t lower their cost capitalism will make them go broke. I milk 300+ grazing in case you thought i don’t know the business

  3. joe says:

    The dairies need help! No body can stand to lose $200. a month per cow for 9 months and expect to hold their lives together. Dairies were getting paid $9 cwt. and consumers were paying $4.5 per gallon at the store. The dairy farmer is is making $.72 per gallon the stores was selling for 4.5 per gal. The diff. is $3.78. that tells me someone made alot of MONEY!!!! and the dairies are going broke. I milk 20,000 cows in case you thought i don’t know the busisness JOHN

  4. zama says:

    thank for sending this article to me i really apreciate it.i’am an agricultural student and this help me if you know any farm around south africa who can offer me an experential training next year please help me.

  5. Jared says:

    There needs to be more than a pricing system change to fix the problems the dairy farmers face.
    We need to not produce as much as milk as before and slow the amount of imported dairy products to this country. Most of these imported dairy products are not as high-quality as American dairy products. And John, I object to your comment about the small dairies. They don’t live in a hole. They’re on top of what’s going on. And look what would happen if we just had a few huge farms to produce our food. The rural way and quality of life would disappear and our economy would be in a depression. Do you want that to happen ?

  6. JD says:

    We really do need to make the pricing system more competitive. Farmers and consumers will lose if we don’t.

  7. P$ says:

    Here’s an idea: stop suckling on the secretions of another animal & get a real job. The dairy industry is failing for a reason. Let free enterprise run its course and make these “farmers” find a less-cruel alternative to using animals as a means to their end.

  8. J.W. Davis says:

    P$, I hope you can sleep well at night. Most of these farmers are small to mid-size and work 16-20 hours a day. How many hours do you work in a day ? Would you like to get up at 2:30 or 4 in the morning to go to work ? I don’t think so. By the way, do you have any animals and how do you treat them ? Animal rights people are hypocrites.

  9. P$ says:

    I sleep great at night! Pray tell, what’s hypocritical about my lifestyle? I mean, you know me SO well. I couldn’t care less how hard these people work — they could be putting the same amount of effort into a line of work that’s actually ethical and doesn’t contribute to the suffering and death of thousands of animals. These people make a conscious decision to get up at 2 or 4 AM every morning to go to work. What does that have to do with the fact that they are treating animals as property?

  10. J.W. Davis says:

    I know you couldn’t care less. They aren’t treating animals as property. By the way, P$, I guess you think I’m “unethical” because I own 2 rabbits, 2 cats and a dog and am a member of 4-H. None of which I’m ashamed of. I love my animals and take good care of them. I even talk to them and play with them when I have time. I might not be perfect as your kind thinks you are. If you would read the Bible, especially New Testament, you would find that eating is not against Jesus Christ, our savior. You still didn’t answer my question about if you own any animals.
    My neighbors are also “unethical” because have cats and dogs for companions. And they have more of a conscience than you probably do.
    And if you think I’m anti-environment, I’m also proud member of the Arbor Day Foundation and support wildlife organizations.

  11. J.W. Davis says:

    Suffering and death ? What about the suffering and death of all the people around the world who are wish they could have a nice warm house and something to eat like you do. And when they come calling on someone like you to help them, you turn your back. And milk is NOT secretion, urine and manure are secretion. You obviously need some serious education, because you sure do sling a lot of manure when you talk. By the way, I sleep really great too. The people I talked about working hard are doing their best to achieve that goal and you are standing in the way.

  12. P$ says:

    *ahem.*

    First of all.

    se·cre·tion
    1. The process of secreting a substance, especially one that is not a waste, from the blood or cells: secretion of hormones; secretion of milk by the mammary glands.

    Milk is a secretion. It serves a singular purpose. Human breast milk is for humans. Cow’s milk is for cows. We are the only species on this planet that consumes breast milk past infancy.

    Secondly, please stop with the “your kind,” “you,” and “someone like you.” You have absolutely no idea who I am. And from the looks of things, it is in fact YOU who needs some serious education.

    Third, diverting attention from what we originally began discussing, the use of cows in the dairy industry as a means to your end, to suddenly discussing blanket human rights issues is a complete red herring. Stay on topic.

    Fourth, your owning pets is not unethical. Domesticated animals such as dogs and cats, which were originally captivated and cultivated for our (humans) own selfish reasons, now need to be cared for. Helpless animals in need pour forth from shelters and pounds across the country. Adopting and caring for your 2 rabbits, 2 cats and dog is great! It’s the very least you can do.

    But it brings up an interesting phenomena amongst humans. Its called speciesism. But, seeing as how you are much more educated than I, you’ve already heard of this. Why do you care for your dogs and cats and turn around and eat a steak? A chicken breast? What moral difference is there between a dog and a cow?

    I am standing in no one’s way of earning a living. You and I participate in a capitalist economy, where my dollar counts as my vote. I choose not to pay into the suffering and death that is the dairy/meatpacking industry.

    I am not perfect. I never claimed to me. Anyone who does is clearly delusional. “My kind” does not think they’re perfect, if in fact “my kind” refers to vegans. However, vegans woke up to the glaring hypocrisy of our species’ treatment of other sentient beings on this planet, and discovered that all of the death is completely unnecessary.

    Finally, the Bible? Really? You’re going to drag that into this conversation? Once again, you’re assuming you know who I am, and what kind of formal education I have. Without assuming anything about you, I’m going to stay on the safe side and assure you I’ve read the Bible inside and out in my lifetime, and there is very little of value, and nothing of proven fact in there. It holds no relevance to the fact that the cows you own live their life to be forcefully impregnated over and over again in order to create your income. Leave your beliefs out of this and stick to logic and reason.

  13. J.W. Davis says:

    I’m sticking to logic and reason. Eating meat or eggs and drinking milk is not cruel. Farmers care for their animals. They don’t beat animals around because they know that what is best for the animal is best for them and for consumers. They also care for the environment because they live here too. If they are such abusers of land and animals, how would they be making a living ? For those who would like to learn more about the dairy industry, visit DairyFarmingToday.org. They have the info anybody needs to understand the dairy farmers.

  14. P$ says:

    Eating meat, eggs, milk, or any other byproduct of the meat/dairy industry (including leather & wool) IS definitely cruel. If you cared for your animals, you would have their best interests in mind and not yours.

    This is the reality of the egg industry.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ–faib7to

    How can you support something like that? Granted, this is one of the worst examples one can provide pertaining to the use (and abuse) of animals for human sustenance, but it is not at all uncommon.

    If you produce for/support the meat/milk/dairy industry, you are pushing this death and destruction. You do not care for the environment. Here’s a few fun facts. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

    The livestock population of the United States consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed more than 5 times its human population.

    Eight per cent of global human water use goes towards animal production.

    Nearly 10 percent of the U.S. land area is used to grow feed for animals raised for meat, and another 32 percent is used for grazing cattle, making livestock production the largest single use of land in the country.

    To produce a single pound of meat, egg, or milk protein, depending on the species, 3–12 pounds of feed protein are needed. Producing all of this feed for farm animals uses more land, water, fertilizer, pesticides, and energy than would be used if we simply ate plant foods directly.

    It is not environmentally sound AT ALL. In fact, 1 acre yields 165 lbs of beef or 20,000 lbs of potatoes. More than 7 billion animals die yearly for human consumption.

    You claim your Bible supports your murderous eating habits. Thou shalt not kill doesn’t extend to the other sentient beings your God put on this planet? How about all of the evidence in your Bible AGAINST the exploitation and killing of animals?

    http://www.vegetablekillers.net/forums/veg-food/33960-vegetarian-quotes-in-the-christian-bible.html

    For those of you who would like to learn about the REAL dairy industry, and how beneficial it is to yourself, those around you, the environment, and the animals to not drink another animal’s secretions tainted with pus and blood, visit http://www.milksucks.com

    They have the information anybody needs to understand why J.W. Davis here should be farming spinach and not leeching off other sentient beings.

  15. J.W. Davis says:

    P$, maybe you should quit posting on this website if you feel so strong against dairies. After all, this is Farm and Dairy. Here’s an idea for P$ : Stop mooching around and find a real job. I did. As far as me raising spinach, I have been raising my own vegetables along with my family. Where do you get yours ? The store ? I call that leaching. By the way, check your spelling before you rant and rave about ( you had leaching spelled leeching). If you think the egg industry is so cruel, you should see where I got eggs. From an Amish neighbor, where their chickens are free-ranged. And as far as contaminants in milk, most dairies in my area supplement feed with hay. And alot of dairies around have become certified organic, meaning they use only natural methods and products. How can that be cruel ? As far whats hypocritical about your lifestyle, I’ll tell you. HSUS lied to a lot of organic growers and told them if they voted no on Issue 2, the HSUS requirements wouldn’t effect them, just the CAFOs. Then behind close doors, HSUS is getting ready to eliminate animal ag. Also, you told me to keep the Bible and my beliefs out of this, yet YOU tell me that the Bible says not to eat meat.
    That’s how you are a Hypocrite.

  16. J.W. Davis says:

    By the way, If you think I dairy farm P$, your wrong. I don’t own a single cow.

  17. I would hope that milk prices paid to producers would increase and stay at the same price. I would hope that there would be more resources for people who live in Arkansas for expanding or have a chance to crawl out of the hole that we have been put into in the last decade. My hopes that we as dairy farmers could be paid at least enough to pay the prices it actually cost to run the farm, such as feed, equipment, hay, etc. I hope that the future for the dairy industry will process in a better way to help us a float to at least being debt free. Here is my personal story.

    Please, read my family’s story.

    I want to share my story, about my family’s small dairy farm. This farm was first started in 1978 by my grandfather (Charles Bell) and my grandmother (Virble Bell). The farm was successful in every way. They even were awarded “Dairy Farmers Of The Year” in 1986. They graduated from Grade C milk to Grade A milk. As the years passed the farm was then left to my father (Everett Bell) in 1999. During the last decade, the prices for feed have increased, the prices for commodities have increased, and the prices being paid for milk production have dramatically decreased! This led my father to believe that he needed to build a barn that milked sixteen cows rather than the older barn that only milked five to six cows at a time. He also thought that the mixing the feed himself would help save cost on buying the feed or grains pre-mixed. With the price of milk per hundred pounds a decade ago, his plans for developing a bigger business would have worked, but the economy has changed and also the price of milk for producers. As the prices dropped and the commodity prices increased, this led my family into major debt issues. My grandparents, father, and my step-mother pulled out everything they had in savings, bonds, 401K, and retirement to put into the farm. My father also suffers from a major disease called Crone’s disease, which led to even more debt issues. Besides all of this, my point is that dairy farmers today are not getting the price per hundred gallons that they deserve. And even if the price of milk for producers do increase, how will my family be saved from foreclosure. Their houses, vehicles‘, land, and everything they own is tied up into this huge amount of debt towards the farm. They do not have the income to hire labor help, which leaves only my seventy-one year old grandfather, my sixty-six year old grandmother, my father, and his son to run the entire farm. There is more to be done than just milk the cows. They must care for the calves, provide food and proper conditions for the cows, maintain the tractors and equipment needed to keep the dairy farm alive. Cows must be milked at least twice a day for seven days a week. I (daughter of Everett Bell and my mother-in-law) have been donating our time into helping with labor time on the farm for free. My heart lies into this farm, and the needs of my family. My father has suffered not only physically, but mentally with this issue. My step-mother is a full time student attending nursing school to become an RN to help better provide for the family and the farm. We have searched for charity, donations, and fought hard everyday to come up with a solution for saving the farm. The farm is now in it’s fifth generation, and is on the verge of being foreclosed. What if any thing can I or my family do to save this farm. We desperately need assistance of some kind. I am asking with all of my heart that if you know or know someone that can help us achieve the goals of being debt free, and making our dairy farm a success, then please help! Please be aware that we are not the only dairy farmers suffering, but many have already been foreclosed or is on the verge of loosing everything they own as well. Within the last two years the dairy farms have decreased by 80 % the total there were in Arkansas. Can you help us to be able to leave the farm to the fifth generation son (Sidney Bell). We have received $4,000 from the stimulus package from the government, but this is not enough to help our criteria needed to save our dairy farm. Is there any other source or way that we can achieve our goals for success?

    Thank you for taking the time and the efforts in reading my story, and with hope and faith; may a miracle happen for my family and other dairy farmers around the world.

    With Deep Regards,

    Jennifer Danise Medley

    Bells Cotton Hill’s Dairy Farm
    1874 West Center Street,
    Cave City, AR 72521
    Contact: Everett or Donna Bell
    Phone: 870-283-6636

  18. J.W. Davis says:

    I find Jennifer’s story more heartwarming than that of P$.

  19. Darlene says:

    P$ I think you need to get a life P$. I bet you work a desk job and sit on a computer all day because from the sounds of it you wouldn’t know what PHYSICAL labor is. As far as not drinking cows milk you must live a boring unhealthy life since you don’t consume milk,cheese,butter,icecream,yogurt etc.

  20. Mike says:

    I am farming in Ireland. 2009 milk prices were equal to cost of production, there is a small price rise coming in 2010 . I saw somewhere where European farmers located to south Dakota to start giant dairies from 2003 on. All of them put their entire proceeds into these dairies and borrowed heavily as they were told that there was huge demand for milk and that the price would hold up. As the dairies were built on farms of 160 acres and keep up to 2500 cows they have to buy in most of their feed, now with the price of milk lower than production costs a lot of them are destined for bankruptcy and will end up with nothing. They were led like lambs to slaughter. Big dairies like these will make good profits when milk prices are good but when prices drop below production costs they will be the first to fall especially with heavy borrowings. I think a lot of them were lured by the fact that they could manage their farms and use cheap labour to work them, none of them thought what if the price of milk drops. Personally I have more sympathy for farmers that were born and reared in the US and have spent their entire lives working their farms.

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