Raiders pillaging your milk check

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Attention all dairymen: If you missed last spring’s informative article on federal order pool raiding by Ohio State’s Cam Thraen, I hope you read OSU District Dairy Specialist Dianne Shoemaker’s article that started on page 1 of this week’s issue.

All milk producers in Federal Order 33 need to be aware milk producers elsewhere in the country are siphoning F.O. 33 money – without even having to ship milk here.

This milk – 4.1 billion pounds since June 2000 – is being pooled on paper so producers elsewhere can benefit from a higher differential in the Mideast order (while your blend price spirals down). Actual delivery of that milk amounted to a pitiful 2.75 percent of that 4.1 billion pounds!

It is time for us to turn up the heat in Washington to get this nonsense stopped.

North Dakota, which shipped zero, nada, zip milk to F.O. 33 in 2000, shipped 8 million pounds from March through August of this year. Iowa, which traditionally has shipped no milk to the order, jumped on the bandwagon in September 2000 and in the first eight months of 2001 has averaged monthly shipments of 3.65 million pounds.

Kansas hopped on board in November 2000 and averaged 5.7 million pounds per month the first six months of 2001.

This milk is pooling on the order and drawing down the blend price but is not serving the market in any regular form. Indeed, it is disrupting the market.

Little ol’ Wisconsin, where approximately nine producers in five counties have traditionally sent about 1 million pounds each month, really kicked into high gear. So far in 2001, an average of 2,361 producers in 62 Wisconsin counties are now flooding the order with a monthly average of 348.5 million pounds.

And this is from the state that is whining about Idaho milk and California milk in its own federal order. In a June hearing in Minnesota similar to the one held in Ohio last week, Wisconsin Ag Secretary Jim Harsdorf said, “Adding California milk to the mix in the Upper Midwest drives down prices paid to Wisconsin farmers, and that’s got to stop.”

That’s the pot calling the kettle black.

Harsdorf added that Wisconsin dairy farmers “just want to be free to compete fairly.”

Bring them on, says Portage County dairyman Jack Groselle, one of three milk producers testifying at the Ohio hearing last week in an effort to stop the pool raiding by Wisconsin and other non-F.O. 33 shippers.

“I would be glad to compete with Wisconsin dairy farmers,” Groselle said. “They can pay to truck their milk here or they can move here. I have no problem with that.”

This loophole will not be closed quickly, even if USDA designates the situation an “emergency” (see related article on page A00). The federal orders can only be changed or amended through a long rule-making process that includes a vote by all producers in a federal order. We could still be talking about this problem next spring, so tighten your belts now because it’s not going away tomorrow.

Be informed. This is your paycheck they’re raiding. And it wouldn’t hurt to clue in your U.S. congressmen and senators – USDA needs to know someone other than milk producers are concerned.

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