Why don't we ever learn from past mistakes?

Arden Tewksbury
Arden Tewksbury
Manager, Pro-Ag

Here we are in 2020, and dairy farmers are facing one of the worst erratic prices for their milk they have ever experienced. On top of these prices, dairy farmers have had to cope with the threat of the Covid-19 virus. Unfortunately, the majority of dairy farmers haven’t jumped onto the right milk wagon to correct these inadequate prices they continue to receive. How much longer can the majority of dairy farmers drift along, facing all of these inequities?

Recently, I uncovered a copy of the Rocket Courier that is published in Wyalusing PA, dated November 15, 1990 (Bradford County). The article was written by Wes Skillings (a real friend of the dairy farmers). This was his headline for his story: Is Milk Pricing Plummeting Going to Be the Last Straw for Embattled Dairy Farmers? On the inside of the Courier, Wes had another article entitled, “Farmers May Be Crying Wolf, But the Wolf is At Their Door” (remember this was in 1990.) Mr. Skillings goes on to describe the fate of our dairy farmers. Why haven’t all of us been listening to people such as him?

This article was written nine years after Congress froze the support price on manufactured milk at $12.60 per cwt. (hundred pounds). Wes quotes prices paid to dairy farmers at $11.70 per cwt. and what a disgrace this price was. 

Back in 1990, hauling charges paid by dairy farmers were very low, and in many cases, nonexistent. Make allowances were not heard of, and marketing costs were practically nil. So in essence, 2020, with many of our dairy farmers paying $1.50 per cwt. to have their milk hauled and many dairy farmers experiencing a marketing cost of $2.50 per cwt., one must say what the heck has gone wrong.

Actually, some dairy farmers in 2020 netted less than farmers received in 1990!

Yes, Mr. Skillings asked the question in 1990, is milk price the last straw facing our embattled dairy farmers? And then Mr. Skillings asked if the dairy farmers were crying wolf? Wes, you were right. The wolf was at their door, and unfortunately, the miserable wolf gobbled up the majority of our dairy farmers.

The question is, who really gives a heck?

Arden Tewksbury is the manager of crop insurance provider Pro-Ag. They can be reached at 570-833-5776.