Willie Nelson and Farm Aid Warn Low Milk Prices for Farmers Threaten Local and Regional Economies
Farm Aid petition calls on Secretary Vilsack to set fair price for dairy farmers
SOMERVILLE, MA — The drastic drop in milk prices paid to farmers over the past year has led to an unprecedented crisis for dairy farmers who, on average, are being paid less than half the cost of production. Low prices and high production costs threaten to push nearly one-third of dairy farmers off their land over the next couple of months, strengthening corporate control of the dairy industry and severely impacting the health of local and regional economies nationwide.
Farm Aid has organized a petition to call on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to take action by setting a floor price for milk that reflects the cost of production, protecting the livelihoods of dairy farmers and consumer access to fresh, local dairy products. Farm Aid will personally deliver the petition to Secretary Vilsack on June 2.
"Setting a fair price for milk won't fix all the problems that led to the current crisis, but it may be the only way to keep thousands of dairy farmers on their farms this year," said Farm Aid board member Willie Nelson. "Unless Secretary Vilsack takes immediate action, huge areas of the United States may be left without any local dairy farms at all."
Dairy farmers have been hit with a catastrophic combination of factors beyond their control. Farmers are struggling to pay bills from record high feed and fuel costs; adequate credit is increasingly impossible to come by; and the price of milk paid to farmers by processors collapsed a record 30 percent in January alone, and is currently down 50 percent since July 2008. In the meantime, the top dairy processors have recently announced 2009 first quarter earnings that are up from the same period last year. The top processor, Dean Foods, reported their first quarter earnings are more than double that of last year thanks in part to the plunging price Dean pays to its milk producers.
When you're done reading, be sure to encourage Secretary Vilsack to set a fair price for milk and to ensure a local and regional milk supply, by visiting www.farmaid.org/dairyfarmers.