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Dairy farmers can no longer subsidize dairy industry

Arden Tewksbury

For several years either the USDA or the US Congress has continued to levy additional charges on dairy farmers. This must be corrected!  How can this be done?  Here is how. 

We must pass a new dairy bill patterned after S-1640 (The Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act).

Recently I was pleased to read that an economist for the American Farm Bureau raised serious questions regarding the make allowance.  These make allowances are deducted from the value of milk and goes to the handlers that manufacture dairy products and reduces the value of milk that is paid to dairy farmers.   

For a long time I thought Pro-Ag was the only one concerned about these make allowances.  I want to state that S-1640 eliminates make allowances in all Federal Milk Marketing Orders.  The Farm Bureau economist raised questions concerning bloc voting in Federal Milk Marketing Orders.  Yes, a member of a co-op can request a ballot to vote on an amendment being proposed to a Federal Order. 

One reason for bloc voting is if the vote on an amendment to a Federal Order is negative, then that Federal Order would cease to be operable. 

Again, S-1640 says a negative vote on an amendment to a Federal Order would not eliminate the Federal Order.

It’s rewarding to hear someone else address this issue.

Another important article I read was in a Milkweed issue.  The author quoted different officials illustrating some programs the co-op had initiated for its members.

One thing that caught my attention was what they call a smart-growth program to curb large increases in milk production by their members.  Actually the program they have is contained in S-1640.  Again, it’s rewarding to see other people using the same ideas as S-1640.

So let’s make reference to everything that’s being deducted from our dairy farmers.

Yes, the make allowance allows between $2 and $3 per cwt. to shortchange the dairy farmers price.  And yes, all milk handlers can now charge the dairy farmers the full price for having the milk delivered to a plant.  Yes, and now exorbitant marketing costs can be levied on our dairy farmers.  And yes, some farmers have been charged fees for even dumping milk!

Let’s not forget the large fees charged to dairy farmers for advertising their milk.  When you add up all these costs, it’s no wonder dairy farmers are shaking their heads when they receive their milk checks.  However, there is one big item these other people are forgetting.  And that word is “price”.   It’s time dairy farmers receive a price that allows them the opportunity to cover their cost of producing milk. 

Not only does S-1640 cover these costs, the bill also allows a new pricing formula for our dairy farmers to cover these costs.  If we’re going to continue to have a reliable dairy industry, then dairy farmers must support a bill like S-1640.

Arden Tewsbury

Tewksbury is manager of Pro-Ag