Monday, January 11, 2010

Update on What’s Happening in Dairy

JenThere are a couple of recent developments in the dairy crisis to update you about.

Back in October 2009, Congress approved $350 million in emergency funding for dairy farmers. $60 million was to be used to purchase excess dairy products for use in federal nutrition programs to help even out the market and drive the price of raw milk up from the abysmal lows farmers received throughout 2009. The remaining $290 million was to be used to directly assist dairy farmers. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack promised, "We'll do everything we possibly can to move it out to the countryside as quickly as we can." On December 17, 2009, Secretary Vilsack made good on that promise when the USDA announced that the $290 was to be distributed immediately through the Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Program (DELAP).

As the USDA explains, eligible producers will receive a one-time direct payment based on the amount of milk both produced and commercially marketed by their operation during the months of February through July 2009. Production information from these months will be used to estimate a full year's production to calculate the payments.

We're hearing from dairy farmers who have received their payment. While they're thankful for the assistance, by no means does it cover the losses they suffered in 2009, when the price of milk never even came near the high cost of production that farmers faced. If you're a dairy farmer and have not received your payment yet, check with your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office or go to

Going into 2010, production costs have decreased and the outlook for milk prices looks better. In spite of the rising price farmers receive for milk, those dairy farmers who have survived this far will have a tough go of it — already we're hearing from farmers on our hotline who have been denied credit for the upcoming year. Without credit, many farmers will be unable to plant their feed crops or purchase feed for their animals, upgrade or maintain equipment, or cover the daily expenses of farming.

In order to better understand the dairy industry, the USDA has announced the formation of a Dairy Industry Advisory Committee. Over two years, the 17-member committee will review the issues of farm milk price volatility, dairy farmer profitability, consolidation, and fair prices and offer suggestions on how the USDA can best address the needs of a struggling dairy industry. The committee is made up of farmers, academics, industry representatives and consumers. Two folks from Farm Aid-funded organizations were nominated: Ed Maltby of Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance and James Goodman of Family Farm Defenders. The committee will hold its first meeting in early 2010 and it will be open to the public. When we have more information, we'll let you know, so that you may participate.

Finally, and on a lighter note (well, lighter in subject matter, not butterfat!), check out this butter sculpture from the Pennsylvania Farm Show. The sculpture pays tribute to the value that family dairy farmers bring to our tables. Moo-tiful!


  1. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Dairy Industry Advisory Committee, a group assembled representing educational procrastination, studying but doing nothing.

    Products of agriculture, so basic as air and water for our very existence are not commodities, but life itself. Farmers are well aware of all that enters into the difficult process for feeding our nation and yet the reward for their effort is many times a poverty wage for the small farmer.

    The consumer is bombarded by advertising extolling the quality of the numerous food products, which the marketing attempts to convey the superiority over that of their competitor. These items which when the farmer takes them to market the food processor who buys them calls them commodities

  2. Desperation Acres12:13 PM

    Thank you farm aid for hearing us! We have been advised, that despite the fact our banker was unethical in his dealings with our loan,it is most likely he will succeed in taking our dairy business and farm (property and our HOME!)FSA also failed us. PLEASE continue to bring this crisis in dairy to light, it may be to late for us, but keep it up for those who continue to feed this county.

    With sincerest appreciation, Mari and Bruce Drinkman

  3. If family farmers want to see why they're going broke look at

    I have pictures of when I worked at Daigold in Boise, ID, sixth largest dairy in the nation, unsanitary transportation, warehousing & I reported kickbacks in transportation to Interim Gov Risch, now Idaho US Senator & current ID Gov Otter, neither would investigate.

    I was fired after answering a letter from Darigold corporate office asking for information into theft, fraud, & waste & the letter specified no retaliation.

    Is this what family farms want the world to see, is this the hard work you put into farming? It's your name on it, your milk, & if you allow it you don't have any room to talk. If family farmers think this ok, don't beg for $. There are pictures of a hog farm that make America look like a third world nation.

    Obama claims he'll fight the decision by the courts over the recent ruling to allow more corporate $ through campaign finance. Where is Farm Aid? Come to Idaho, write Gov Otter, Jim Risch, & Walt Minnick who let Darigold fire me. If President Obama wants to fight for US like he says on the White House facebook, let's hold him to it. Ask all contributors, Congress, Senate, & courts why we're $2.2 trillion in need of infrastructure repair.

    It's all documented proof & the courts allow more money to flow? Even a poor lawyer could win this case in court. If the White House lawyers can't win this arguement in the court of public opinion, republicans & democrats, there is something else wrong.

    This two party joke we call democracy has been failing for years, only two running this country yet all we vote in the other party. One fails, vote in the other, fail, vote, fail, vote, & they both accept millions from the same corporations. No different than all star wrestling, good guys, bad guys, & the fans/taxpyers eat it up while handing over their money.

    I was born & raised in a farm community, watched farmers go broke, complain, go broke, complain, & never ctach on, no different than the people, millions without jobs, losing homes while family is in Iraq & Afghanistan? Bankers, great minds get billions in bonus & we go broke?

    Look at the MA, the address I see for Farm Aid? How many million have our mis-representatives accepted from corporations yet we're trillions in need to get infrastructure to a passing grade, a B?

    I'm trying to put together a web site to get transportation into the 21st century but I need people like Farm Aid to help. Can I count on you?
    Just like family farmers, trucking has done nothing but lose money, Hundreds of thousands of truckers going broke while big companies get bigger, just like family farmers go broke.

    Look at & tell me there isn't a problem.

    Over 28,200 motor carriers, 200,000 trucks on the road with violations, conditional & unsatisfactory ratings by the same FMCSA that prints this. The FMCSA can't begin to police the problems. 4000 people die every year, over 80,000 injured.

    If dairy farmers want $, look at the pictures on, rerun milk, rotten crap with your name on it, sold to McDonalds, Burger King, Safeway, WINCO, COSTCO, & more. Is that what family farmers are made of, lies like Darigold? I wouldn't put my name on it.

    Scott Tisthammer


  4. Chris Brothers7:54 PM

    I have just heard this weekend that 4 farmers in the PA/OH/NY area have shot or suffocated thier cows with smoke. They proceeded to commit suicide the same way. There better be reform soon on how milk is priced or we will have no family farms. I have confirmed the one case. Check out for the guy who shot 51 cows then himself. It says despondant over personal problems but I don't think it's the whole story. I'll post again if I can confirm the others.

  5. Strugglin, stressed and wore out!1:16 PM

    Just one of my dairy crisis stories. Yesterday when I returned home from the hospital (getting x-rays on my worn out body) there was a rollback loading our John Deere skidloader. I begged the not so friendly driver to wait till I got the fellow, whom I've been working with on a payment plan, on the phone. The fellow from the John Deere collections told me I had till Feb. to pay what's due. This was Jan. 28. Don't I still have a few days? The fellow left a message on my phone around 10:30 a.m that morning to call him and see what we're doing to resolve this, that it needs to be resolved this week. This was Thurs. Don't I still have 1 more day or 2? I got this fellow on the phone, while the driver waited. The fellow said I would have to call John Deere, settle it with them, he gave me the number, wanted to talk to the driver. The driver said this fellow asked him if the equip. was secure. The driver said yes, the fellow said take it and hung up. I begged to wait till I got John Deere on the phone, he said, "got orders". Up the road went our loader, which we, 2 days ago put 4 new tires on, over $600. An ironic thing is that the driver got orders that morning at 6 am., the fellow at collections left a message around 10:30 am. I called John Deere, which has been good to us. I told her what this fellow told me and she said she would call him. I called her back, she said that this fellow said he did not tell me I had till Feb. I told her I am an honest, Christian and he did tell me that. I even played the message for her. She said the message doesn't mention February, besides once it goes into repo. there's nothing they can do. I can get the equip. back by paying what's due plus $950.oo repo fee. And I have to pick it up. I begged why, because I had no idea it was going to be repo'd. I thought I had a couple days to get the money, milk check should come the 29th. This whole thing started back in the fall when we settled on a lesser payment plan through Farmplan. The bills for them, I didn't know, are through John Deere credit. I thought I was paying on the loader for a couple of months. Dumb on my part, I didn't check the account number. Collections contacted me and we worked things out to send as much as possible when possible until about 2 weeks ago I was told I had until February. Could this be a money making sceme? Can they do this? I looked back on my bills and no mention of repo. This fellow is just plain lying and we can't do a thing about it. If we cause trouble will they get tougher with us? Can they demand the balance or take our equip.? We absolutely can not afford a lawyer. Kick us while we're down. We have honestly been trying to pay our bills. We don't shop, eat high on the hog, go anywhere. Our sons quit college, lack of funds. My husband works fulltime off-farm, one son is working parttime and we still are struggling. I'm tired of the surplus crap. If they would keep the stores prices reasonable people would buy more. I have talked to several people that agree. One mother of 4 told me that she has always purchased lots of cheese, but with the high price they had to cut way back. As the words of Earl Pitts, "Wake up America!". People need to be educated. Do you want our food imported? A fellow who works for the government told us that the governments plan is to support the top 10% of the dairy industry and import the rest. Looks like it might happen. This is our Country, it's time for us to run it. I'm new at this bloggin thing. I just happened to go to Farm Aid to see what's happening and what in the world can we (the small, family farmer)do. I welcome any info. that we the poor farmers can do. We need prayers, support, direction and some kind of moral boost. You think suicide hasn't crossed alot of farmers minds?? It should never have to be this hard for farmers. We are a very important part of our country's well-being. Not car companies, etc. Gotta get back to work, I've vented enough.

  6. Anonymous9:51 AM

    It is sad that there are stories like the ones above. We need farms...Take a look at the countryside...empty barns...Values changing...Everyone should be concerned about where their food comes from...if this continues it will all come from corporate farms...Something needs to change...Farmers do need to be looked upon as heros and paid as such!! Not many people have the resources or the will continue...
    Sorry to hear the story of the Drinkman's

  7. Anonymous4:26 PM

    maybe can provide some suggestions?

  8. Anonymous10:58 AM

    It's not just in the dairy industry....cattle, horses, sheep, goats, hogs, etc......every aspect of agriculture is struggling....God, please help those who are trying to help themselves.