Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Farm Aid and allied groups urge Congress to act on Dairy Crisis

HildeAfter Farm Aid delivered the petition you all signed to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on June 18th, it was apparent more pressure was needed to encourage him to respond to the alarming conditions in dairy. Yesterday, in the next step of our help for struggling dairy farmers, Farm Aid, along with 57 family farm, environmental and consumer organizations, delivered a letter to Congress urging both the House and Senate to support the Secretary in any efforts to establish an emergency floor price for farm milk that reflects the cost of production.

The letter was delivered in time for this morning's House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing to address the dire economic conditions facing the dairy industry. The witnesses slated to speak are industry and cooperative representatives, while family farm organizations that have been working on the frontlines on behalf of dairy farmers for decades were excluded. The National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), a long time partner of Farm Aid, plans to flyer outside Congressional offices to protest the hearing for shutting out vital farmer voices. NFFC, Farm Aid and Food & Water Watch will host a press teleconference call at 3 P.M. in response to the hearing.

"The crisis in dairy is not about farmers producing too much milk; it is about unregulated and unnecessary imports. This crisis is not about a decline in demand; it is about ineffective policies leading to unfair, easily manipulated pricing formulas and extremely volatile, unpredictable markets. We know that setting an emergency floor price for farm milk will not address all the problems that led to the current crisis, but it may be the only way to keep thousands of dairy farmers on the land this year."

Click here to read the entire letter (PDF format).

1 comment:

  1. You say:"The crisis in dairy is not about farmers producing too much milk; it is about unregulated and unnecessary imports. This crisis is not about a decline in demand; it is about ineffective policies leading to unfair, easily manipulated pricing formulas and extremely volatile, unpredictable markets." In fact it is about the American dairyman producing more than the domestic market can use and so it must be exported. According to Dairyland.com: "The first eight months of fiscal year (FY) 2009 saw exports valued at about $1.6 billion, down 43 percent from the same period in FY 2008; imports were valued at about $2 billion, down 7 percent from a year earlier. The trade deficit for FY ’09 is estimated at $408 million" Age old economic reality; live by the export market and die by the export market. Where was all this self righteous protectionism when the Chinese destroyed the American apple growing industry?
    The American dairyman produces too much. For decades I have sat in the coffee shop and heard them brag to each other that they are "...going to milk more cows than you". Like it is a test of manhood.
    And now the taxpayer is supposed to bail them out? The guys who have the biggest, newest, most expensive equipment? The guys who live in the 10,000 sq. ft. house and drive the BMWs? Who spend the winter in Palm Springs?
    Caveat: I am referring to the west coast MEGA dairyman. I know nothing of the eastern USA dairy industry.

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