Pool raiding is siphoning big bucks


At the Northeast Ohio Dairy Management Conference earlier this month, I listened in disbelief as I heard OSU’s Cam Thraen explain the pool riding/pool raiding that’s going on in our local federal milk order.

Individuals from as far away as Idaho can ship one day’s milk into the order and then share in the pool for the entire month.

Local milk producers have lost as much as $10 million in just six months, according to Cam’s calculations. (If I were a local member of Dairy Farmers of America, I’d be asking some tough questions of management right about now.)

Then I realized I would have to write about the situation. And I hate writing about milk pricing. But I duly trotted over to Cam after the presentation and said, “OK, I’m going to need to get some more information from you.”

To my relief, he said, “Well, I’m in the loop to write the next Dairy Excel column for you and this is what I’m writing about.”

Please read his article. It’s so important, we started it on page 1 this week. As Cam says at the beginning of the article, it’s important even if you don’t milk cows because it affects the economies of communities across Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

The down side is there is no easy remedy to pool raiding. If you want to change the federal order rules, you have to go through the whole rule-making process with open hearings and the entire order open for changes.

You can’t simply amend a portion of the order without bringing the entire order on the table for discussion.

The process is long. Very long. And when it finally comes up for a vote, milk producers are actually voting on the entire order, not just the changes, meaning a majority “no” vote wipes out the order completely.

Be aware of what’s going on.


Columbiana County sheep owner Cynthia Koonce gently corrected a statement I made in an editorial on scrapie earlier this month. I had said that sheep in Vermont tested positive for scrapie. They did not, Koonce said.

They tested positive for a TSE of unknown origin, but not for the scrapie strain in this country, she added.

“This is much scarier to those of us in the industry following this situation than if they had tested positive for the domestic strain of scrapie.”

The most recent update is that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to stay the execution of the two Vermont flocks, but is hearing the appeal April 10.

But the USDA announced last Friday, March 16, that it will be seizing and slaughtering the flock in the next three weeks. In a letter to flock owners, USDA said it will notify them the evening before the pickup.

The flocks in Vermont pose an unacceptable risk to the U.S. sheep and cattle industry. The USDA is doing the right thing.


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