On May 17, 2018, I submitted a comment in response to a proposal from U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., that may give individual dairy farmers approximately $8,000.
The average dairy farm is losing several times this much every month. This is a very short-term remedy and this amount of money may pay one bill, if we are lucky.
Get real, people. Our expenses have increased although we are told to cut our costs.
Yet, as an example, the costs of repairs and maintenance are out of control. If our tractor needs a major repair, $8,000 is a drop in the bucket. Farmers are charged anywhere from $80 to $100 per hour, the travel time it takes for the mechanic to get to your farm, mileage for their vehicle, plus the costs of parts. We just had to replace a tire on our harvester at a cost of $2,000. That is just for one tire.
Our utility bills, fuel bills, and supplies are another cost. Then, as dairy farmers who are dedicated to our work of 365 days, are expected to produce and sell our milk for under cost of production, which has created a heavy debt load and additional interest expense.
The farmer is at the bottom of the ladder. We have no control over our milk price and no one to pass our costs on to like the cooperatives. The hauling, advertising, dues, market adjustment, make allowance, and any other costs they create gets deducted from our milk checks.
Again, this proposal is a very short remedy. Dairy farmers need an emergency $20 per hundredweight floor price under all milk used to manufacture dairy products. We need public, federal and state hearings, to determine a long-term remedy for our survival.
(The author is a board member with Farm Women United.)