6/09 Opinions & Sacred Cows: Milking cows, while Rome burns…


By Ron Goble, Editor

Western DairyBusiness

Well, Rome really isn’t burning, but countless dairies are certainly being consumed in the current economic fire storm. Dairy producers nationwide are seeing their equity disappear month after month as they continue to produce wholesome and healthy milk and milk products for a very unhealthy return that doesn’t begin to approach break even.


Have an opinion or response? E-mail Ron Goble, associate publisher/editor, Western DairyBusiness at: rgoble@dairybusiness.com

Have an opinion or response? E-mail Ron Goble, associate publisher/editor, Western DairyBusiness at: rgoble@dairybusiness.com

It seems obvious that the CWT program – while doing its part to cut milk production – is not enough. That means that the industry needs to take a greater role in solving its constant oversupply problems. 

Good things are happening in that regard. Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager of Milk Producers Council (MPC) in Chino, Calif., reports that the Holstein Association USA has taken MPC’s Growth Management Plan, added their own ideas and announced the Dairy Price Stabilization Program (DPSP). He called the DPSP a “tremendously positive development, as they represent 30,000 members from every dairy area throughout the U.S.” 

National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) are each setting up a task force to examine proposals like the DPSP. It is encouraging to see some of the largest cooperatives in the nation exploring the options to deal with the age-old problem of milk price volatility.

In the midst of all this, a small grass-root effort was started by a few California dairymen who wanted to see “Do Not Ship Milk Days,” in an effort to make a statement concerning their frustration with the oversupply problems out West. The “Do Not Ship” effort was called off, but they are determined to work to bring California cooperatives together to discuss and initiate a 5% reduction in milk production by dairies in the state. 

An informational meeting was held in Tulare in May that drew an estimated 220 producers and representatives from allied industry. “We have a dismal, dying crumbling industry … and everyone in this room is going broke because we are producing $20 milk and selling it for $10 per hundredweight,” declared Syp Vander Dussen, MPC president who moderated the meeting, voicing his frustration, and urging action. Only time will tell what comes of it. 

In the meantime, the NMPF and DFA activity is very positive news. We also are seeing similar efforts in the Northeast with “Dairy Farmers Working Together” announcing their support for the DPSP. 

Vandenheuvel encouraged all milk producers to contact their cooperative and trade association leadership to voice their concern for the future of the industry. It is going to take all segments of the dairy community coming together, each doing their part to resolve the supply issues. 


 June is ‘Dairy Month’ don’t forget!

We hope all producers are involved in promoting dairy. A good example is Whatcom County Dairy Women and Whatcom Farm Friends’ 16th Annual Milk Makers Fest in the Pacific Northwest. They sponsored outstanding events that spread dairy’s positive message. Some 1,700 first grade students and more than 350 teachers/chaperones were educated about your industry. To read about the promotion, visit http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=2970.

Take a bold step forward – do something positive for the dairy industry.