Guest Editorial: Dairy farmer cost of production soars while Congress wafflesPrint
By Arden Tewksbury, Manager, Pro-Ag
The Economic Research Service, a division of USDA, has just released their final figures of the national cost of producing milk in the United States for 2011. With proper adjustments made, the final figure is $23.40/cwt.
While these cost of production figures are staring at dairy farmers all across the United States, the Senate Agriculture Committee reported their version of the Farm Bill to the full Senate. As expected, the Senate version of the Farm Bill contains an insurance program which will be funded by the government while at the same time allowing dairy farmers to purchase additional insurance to cover some of their losses. The Senate Agriculture Committee went in this direction even though continued surveys indicate that the majority of dairy farmers oppose the insurance programs. The Senate Agriculture Committee once more refused to consider any cost of production bills that were submitted to the committee.
However, there was one large bright spot shining in the Committee. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) had the courage to vote against the Farm Bill. The Senator probably has several problems with the Farm Bill, but certainly the cuts in the feeding programs for the needy, along with the Committee not resolving the dilemma facing dairy farmers were her two main reasons in opposing the Bill. It takes a lot of courage to vote against your parties’ leadership.
There will be various amendments offered from different Senators when the Bill is debated by the full Senate.
We urge dairy farmers to contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to amend the dairy section of their proposed Farm Bill to include a milk pricing formula to cover the dairy farmers cost of production from the market place, instead of an insurance plan which in my opinion will mainly reward a few insurance agencies across the United States. It’s now or never.
The House of Representatives has been having various hearings on different committees, but certainly their committee has not given any proper attention to a milk pricing formula that will cover the dairy farmers total cost of production.
Remember my editorial regarding the bar codes used in the majority of stores? Remember dairy farmer Donna Hall asking where is a bar code for dairy farmers? Again the bar code for dairy farmers is in S-1640 (The Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act).
We need all dairy farmers to help in passing this bill or a similar bill. There is still time for concrete action to be taken in the US Senate and certainly the House Agriculture Committee should be considering adopting a realistic national pricing formula for all dairy farmers.
It’s alarming to hear about bankruptcies on many dairy farms.
So, urge all of your U.S. House and Senate members to stop waffling on the issue of dairy reform, and pass a sensible dairy bill that won’t cost the government any funds.
Arden Tewksbury, Manager, Pro-Ag, can be reached at 570-833-5776.