The National Family Farm Coalition sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to reconsider current and proposed federal dairy policy. The letter, signed by 42 organizations and 149 businesses states: “The federal milk pricing formula leaves dairy farmers unable to cover their basic cost of production, but equally important is the loss of a substantial number of support businesses that fold when dairy farmers are not paid enough to cover the bills they owe these service providers and suppliers.”
As neither the House nor Senate draft farm bills make these needed reforms, the letter urges Congress to: “take swift action to implement equitable federal dairy policies based on fairness and cost of production in the dairy provision of the 2012 Farm Bill.”
Arden Tewksbury of Pennsylvania says the margin insurance plan in the Dairy Security Act contained in the pending farm bills is not the answer because while it guarantees a margin over feed cost, it does not cover the other costs involved in production.
The coalition wants the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act (S-1640) introduced over a year ago by Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania which uses a national average cost of production as a starting point for the price of milk plus a stand-by milk supply management program. Tewksbury says the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act would not cost the taxpayer anything while the Dairy Security Act could cost up to a billion dollars and “It won’t solve the problems that dairy farmers are facing.”
Four dairy farmers joined Tewksbury and NFFC Executive Director Kathy Ozer on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday: Joel Greeno of Kendall, Wisconsin; Gretchen Main of Waterville, New York: Loren Lopes of Turlock, California and Stacy McCallister of Wright County, Missouri. All spoke of how the number of dairy farmers is falling dramatically in their respective areas. Lopes hopes the new federal policy will include California where high feed prices and the lowest milk price in the country are pushing producers out. McCallister says the dairy industry was already in rapid decline in Missouri and now the drought has made things even worse…and nobody seems to care.
A copy of the letter to members of Congress with signatures is available here: