A Guest Editorial by Arden Tewksbury, Manager, Pro-Ag.
It’s unbelievable that the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives has adjourned without coming to grips with the reality that dairy farmers are suffering needlessly because of terrible low milk prices. While the Pennsylvania legislature cannot solve the major problem facing dairy farmers, which is an inadequate pricing formula used by the USDA to price milk in the ten Federal Milk Marketing Orders across the United States.
However, the Pennsylvania legislature had a golden opportunity to illustrate to everyone in the United States that there is one legislative body that cares about the American dairy farmer.
However, our Pennsylvania legislature “Blew it!”
I wonder if there are any members left in either the Pennsylvania Senate or House of Representatives when we were successful in having legislation passed that allowed the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to apply an additional value on bottled milk produced and sold in Pennsylvania.
I remember that former Pennsylvania Senator Roger Madigan testified at a hearing and strongly supported the premium on bottled milk. I also recall that the RCMA program was in force in the Northeast part of the country (including parts of Pennsylvania). In an attempt to illustrate the need of strengthening the RCMA premium, we felt it was important that the Pennsylvania legislators adopt the special premium in Pennsylvania. So what did we do? We brought Art Little, an economist from RCMA to testify and Art testified how important it was in order to maintain the RCMA premium and that we need a premium in Pennsylvania to parallel the RCMA premium.
I also remember being introduced to the Pennsylvania Senate and urged them to pass legislation that allowed Pennsylvania to join the Northeast Dairy Compact. All of these things, and many others were done in an attempt to aid Pennsylvania dairy farms.
Yes, all these things were done and now we can’t get the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a simple but important bill that the dairy cooperatives must pay the milk marketing board’s premium to their members in the same manner that proprietary milk handlers. What a darn shame.
It wasn’t just the Pennsylvania Senate who dragged their feet. Please remember that the good Lawrence bill only passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by one vote! The leadership of the Pennsylvania Senate and House (both majority and minority) must sit down and get the Lawrence bill or something like it introduced early in the next session. One good thing to help will be that Jonathan Fritz from Wayne County will be coming to Harrisburg. Representative Fritz strongly supports the dairy farmers. His predecessor from Montrose (Susquehanna County) voted against the Lawrence bill. Incredible!
Let’s get the job done, and done right!
Pro-Ag can be reached at 570-833-5776.