Sunday, June 14, 2009

Still Got Milk? Crisis for Dairy Farmers

Things are bad for family run dairy farms right now folks.
Really bad.According to Farm Aid’s Hilde Steffey, we are at risk here in the U.S. of losing upwards of 80% of our dairy farmers by year’s end, leaving us with just 12,000 dairy farms total. That’s 1 dairy for every 25,000 Americans.
This dairy crisis, and its solution, comes down to a question of fairness. It is unfair that large dairy companies are undercutting U.S. producers by importing cheap milk protein concentrates from other countries(do you really want more food from China?) and using them instead of U.S.-produced milk? (And theFDA does nothing to stop the practice, even though MPCs aren’t approved as a food ingredient) It is unfair that the dairy industry is so consolidated that a few large companies can manipulate the price of milk to their own benefit.They are pocketing huge profits while dairy farmers are left barely hanging on to their farms, or worse.Our Dairy farmers have shelled out more and more for feed and hay in the last few years, but the prices they receive for milk have fallen.We, the consumers are still paying for milk what we were earlier this year, while farmers’ prices dropped 30% in January alone. How is that possible?
There are a lot of things that need to be fixed here, but the most urgent task is to keep dairy farmers on the land while we figure out what to do about the rest. That’s where the government comes in. Way back during the Depression (around 1937), when farmers were pouring milk out on the side of the road because of Depression-induced low prices, Congress passed a law that allows the Secretary of Agriculture to adjust the price of milk to reflect the price of feed and other economic conditions that impact their production costs. Well, if there ever was a time for the Secretary to roll out that authority, it’s now. We can help by signing a petition to Secretary Vilsack before the end of the day on Monday, June 15. It’s being circulated by Farm Aid, a nonprofit that works to keep family farmers on the land, and it asks Secretary Vilsack to use his authority to adjust the farm price of milk as a stop-gap measure.
If Secretary Vilsack doesn’t do something, fast, Farm Aid predicts we could lose up to 20,000 dairy farmers almost immediately. Where does that leave us? With imported milk,(really think Chinese Milk will do your body good?) empty farms, out-of-work farmers, and a whole lot of dairy cows off to become hamburger. Please click on the picture of the milk carton on the right and help our Dairy Farmers.I have a whole cookie jar filled with chocolate chip cookies
just waiting for a cold glass of milk. Care to join me?Spread the word!


Valeri said...

I could identify with every word you wrote. It is the same here in the UK. We are glad we got out of dairying when we did as our government does nothing to help our farmers. Good article! Val

Kate in NJ said...

Thank you Valeri.
Sorry to hear we are not alone.

Jenny said...

I sent the Farm Aid link to everyone I know- thanks for the (disturbing) heads up.