Observations from Washington D.C.: It's time dairy farmers join together

Arden Tewksbury
Pictured are (from left) Arden Tewksbury, Brandon Tewksbury, and Aide to Senator Casey, Adam Tarr meeting about trying to save the nation's dairy farmers.

After spending parts of three days in Washington DC last week, I am fully convinced that there won't be anything coming out of the new Farm Bill that will have a real benefit to our family dairy farmers, unless there is a tremendous effort put forth by these dairy farmers to demand a change.

Remember, as I reported earlier, there are approximately 10,800 dairy farmers in Federal Order #1. Unfortunately, 673 of these dairy farmers produce 55 percent of the milk in Order #1, while slightly over 10,000 dairy farmers produce 45 percent of the milk.

It's high time these 10,000 plus dairy farmers start getting behind a solid proposal to help all dairy farmers, while a few of these 673 dairy farmers like to shove their weight around.

Just stop to think what would happen if these 10,000 dairy farmers quit? You 10,000 dairy farmers are just as important as the 673 are, and as far as having a positive effect on the local economy, the 10,000 dairy farmers are still the champions. 

However, what it comes down to, is the fact that both of these categories of producers are necessary in order to maintain an adequate supply of milk.  

In my opinion, the solution is simple. All dairy farmers need a new pricing formula, which would use the national average cost of production, which now is $21.59 per cwt. (hundredweight).

Then coupled with the new pricing formula, we need a supply management program, which would allow all dairy farmers' production to be based on their average cost of production for the last three years. Then, if there is too much milk being produced over their average production, then there would be a penalty placed on the over-production, but not on their base milk. 

The value of the over-production would be donated to worthwhile feeding programs. No one is going to tell dairy farmers how much milk to produce, but if there is more milk produced then what is needed, then as the old saying goes, someone will have to pay the fiddler.

Whey and milk protein concentrate:

I think, no, I know the time has come for a full investigation into the impact that the whey and milk protein concentrate has on the real production figures.  

Are dairy farmers unjustifiably being blamed for the entire over-production of milk? It's high-time that we find out what fillers are being used to increase the production of dairy products, especially of cheese?  

While I was in Washington DC, I found out that some food products being imported into the United States contain fillers (bits of plastic in rice, etc.) It's time the public is made aware of food safety.

Maybe it's time for these 10,000 family dairy farmers in the Northeast to join with other dairy farmers across the US and demand answers. Remember, these family farms are the backbone of the dairy industry.

It's time y'all join together and let's do something about the undeserved mess the dairy farmers are in.

Arden Tewksbury, Manager of Pro-Ag