Lloyd Gunter has been producing Grade A milk on his Missouri dairy farm since 1967. With almost 50 years of experience under his belt, Gunter has seen the good times and the hard times for the dairy industry.
In July, Missouri’s Governor Nixon vetoed an omnibus bill, which presents many benefits to the state’s agriculture industry. Coming up in early September, the bill is back in discussion with many Missouri farmers pushing to override the veto.
As vice chairman of the Missouri Dairy Association, Gunter works with other dairy farmers on a daily basis. He says this decision may make or break the dairy industry in Missouri.
“If we see another drop in milk prices, there’s a lot of these dairy farmers that have used up their equity. There are a lot of them that have just saved money back to build a house for their wife or they’ve saved money back in’08 and ’09,” Gunter says. “Those farmers pull money out of the savings, wherever they could pull money from to buy the feed to get them through another year or two. Now those funds that they have put back are no longer there, so its just a matter that they’re going to go out of business and their livelihood is at stake because we need this bill passed.”
Gunter says this bill is simple protection that these dairies have needed for a long time.
“Grain farmers have had an insurance program for years and dairy farmers have not. So, this is the first time we’ve been able to get some support from the federal to give us some kind of insurance program,” Gunter says. “So, the state of Missouri, if we can get this override to help the dairy farmers it will be significantly important to the dairy farmers because it does give us that much protection at a higher level than what the federal government will have. “
Without these benefits, it will be hard to pass on the family farm.
“I’ve got a son and his family are in our farm helping us now. They are the fourth and fifth generations coming on. It’s going to be really hard for them to make a living if we cant get something to help them,” Gunter says.
Dairy farming can be hard. It only gets harder when these farmers are left with nothing to make ends meet.
“It’s a lot easier to find a job in town and have those weekends off. A dairy farmer is 24/7 and we’re always there on the farm so it’s a hard job and it’s a life that we love and very dear to,” Gunter says. “It’s very dear to our hearts or else we wouldn’t have stayed in it for so many years.”