National Briefs: Processor refuses milk due to surplus

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs



Dairy stops taking milk from farms due to surplus

A major Pennsylvania dairy has stopped taking milk from 11 farms because of a surplus of milk.

Galliker's Dairy tells WJAC-TV that the Johnstown-area business has had a surplus for years.

Chief operating officer and senior vice president Evan Fineman says the dairy's 85 farms have produced more milk each year even though Galliker's is selling less. After accumulating the surplus and financial losses for several years, the dairy was forced to stop taking milk from 11 farms.

Galliker's produces about 14.5 million gallons of milk each year. The farm layoffs will cut that by about 2 million gallons or 13 percent. The Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board required 30 days notice to the farms so they can find other buyers.


Alabama gets $100K to get schools to buy more local produce

Alabama is getting a $100,000 federal grant to encourage school districts to buy fresh local fruits and vegetables.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries said Friday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant will support a coalition called the Alabama Farm to School Cooperative.

It says specific projects include improving an online farmer database, training child nutrition directors to increase local food purchases, and state-wide farm to school promotion. Some of the money also will help develop standards-based curriculum that encourages students to eat fresh, nutritious produce and educates them about agriculture.

Collaborative members include the Alabama Department of Education, the Foodbank of North Alabama/Farm Food Collaborative, the Alabama Farmers Federation, Feeding the Gulf-Coast Food Bank, food hubs, Druid City Garden Project, and EAT South.


Livestock producers support Bodine nomination 

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council sent a letter to U.S. Senators John Barrasso, R-WY, and Thomas Carper, D-DE, urging them to support the nomination of Susan Bodine to be the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA). Sens. Barrasso and Carper serve as chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing regarding Bodine’s nomination this week. 

Bodine currently serves as Chief Counsel for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and she was previously the staff director and senior counsel for the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. During the George W. Bush Administration, Bodine served as the Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. 


Health insurance info again available at NY farmers markets

More than 400 farmers markets around the state are again offering information on health insurance.

The state's official health plan and the state Department of Agriculture and Markets are partnering to educate shoppers about affordable coverage and healthy eating.

Certified enrollment staffers will be available at several select locations throughout June and July to help shoppers apply. In addition, 365 farmers market managers will display marketplace information. This marks the third year of the partnership.


Farm workers, activists march on Ben & Jerry's

Scores of dairy farm workers and activists completed their march from the Vermont capital of Montpelier to a Ben & Jerry's factory protesting what they say are slow negotiations to reach a deal on the so-called "Milk with Dignity" program.

The march that began the morning of Saturday, June 17, at the Montpelier Statehouse ended mid-afternoon at the ice cream plant in Waterbury.

Proponents say the program would ensure fair pay and living conditions on farms that provide milk to Ben & Jerry's for its popular ice cream.

Organizer Will Lambek says that when marchers arrived at the plant they presented a letter to Ben & Jerry's CEO Jostein Solheim. Spokesman Sean Greenwood says the company is committed to reaching a deal with workers.

Ben & Jerry's gets most of its milk from 80 Vermont farms.


Not so peachy: Tough year for AL peach crop

This could be difficult year for Alabama peach growers.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System says farmers are expected to produce only 10 percent to 30 percent of their usual harvest this year.

The combination of a warm winter, a late frost and the lingering stress caused by last year's drought are hurting crops at some orchards. The central part of the state is particularly hard hit.

Edgar Vinson, an Alabama Extension fruit specialist, says peaches need a certain number of cold days every winter to produce healthy fruit in the spring and summer.


Berry pickers approve contract

As harvest time approaches, unionized pickers have reached a contract with the biggest berry farm in a northwestern Washington state county.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports that the union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia, voted June 15 to approve a tentative agreement reached last weekend with Sakuma Brothers Farms in Skagit County.

Union President Ramon Torres says the contract guarantees the pickers a minimum wage of $12 per hour for work in the fields, but targets an average wage of $15 an hour with some incentives for faster picking.

The contract also lays out a process for conflict resolution, something the workers have never had before. Torres says that will give the workers more protection from being fired.
The company agreed to allow union representation of workers last September after years of labor unrest.