New Farm Bill does not solve all the dairy farmers' financial problems

Arden Tewksbury
Manager of Pro-Ag
Arden Tewksbury

Despite many claims coming from several people, the new Farm Bill only potentially covers some of the dairymen’s’ losses. Just like the former Margin Insurance Program (which we always referred to as being ill-fated and poorly conceived), the new program, if it does what it is supposed to do, it will leave over 50 per cent of the cost of production unaddressed. However, we want to thank Congressman Collin Peterson and others for giving the average dairy farmer much consideration.

Right now you have two choices. 1) Tell everyone not to participate in the program or 2) you should sign up for the program and receive some needed financial help.

If I was still an active dairy farmer, I would sign up for at least the 5 million pound provision, and maybe more. 

Pro-Ag has not changed our official position, and that is, we don’t think dairy farmers should have to buy into an insurance program to help cover their losses, and I don’t think that US Congress should use the taxpayers’ money to subsidize dairy farmers’ losses. 

We think a fair pricing system, and a supply management program (if needed) would work to solve the financial dilemma facing the majority of dairy farmers. Such provisions are still contained in the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act. This program would benefit dairy farmers, consumers, and yes, even milk processors. 

I believe you should now go for the program being offered for the time being. Hoping down the road we might be able to obtain some improvements from the US Congress (yes, I’m aware we’ve been hoping and praying for this to happen many times.)

Right after Christmas, we will be sending thousands of petitions to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and we will be asking him to hold several hearings across the country to give dairy farmers an opportunity to testify.  He should not listen only to National Milk Producers Association and IDFA concerning the needs of our dairy farmers. We also must continue our efforts to get whole milk in our schools, including flavored milk. 

The US Congress, by passing this dairy provision in the Farm Bill, proves one more time that the present pricing system is not fair to our dairy farmers, and needs to be changed.

Merry Christmas to everyone.