It's time for farmers to speak up for fair prices from the marketplace
Farmers across the U.S. need to make lawmakers and USDA officials understand things that they can and must do to aid those trying to make a living in the dairy industry.
1) Congress could and should peg the Class I price in all Federal Orders at least at $20 per cwt.(hundred pounds).
2) An alternate to number one, would be for Congress to place a floor price under all milk used to manufacture dairy products. This could be done in two increments, and reach $20 per cwt.
3) The USDA should and must call a national milk hearing and give the dairy farmers a chance to testify for a new federal milk pricing formula that will include farmers' cost of production like all businesses are permitted to do in pricing their products and services.
4) Sooner, not later, the industry must give credence to a reasonable milk supply management program that is fair to everyone, in the event that there is any overproduction of milk.
5) Members of Congress and the USDA must answer the question, “Why does the Federal Milk Marketing Orders Formula allow a “make allowance” (nearly $2 per cwt.) to be credited to milk handlers when they convert milk into dairy products, but neither the USDA nor Congress will listen to a cost of production formula for dairy farmers?” Isn't this a double standard, with dairy farmers being on the short end of the stick again? The “make allowance” needs to be eliminated immediately because Congress ended the DPPSP in the 2014 Farm Bill, shorting dairy farmers about $2 per cwt. in all milk they have sold since then. That is a huge income shortfall for dairy farmers struggling to pay their bills because of Congress's action in the 2014 Farm Bill.
6) Advertising and promoting milk: Neither of the two major political parties has been fair to American dairy farmers. The past administration did harm to our dairy farmers by developing unwise standards for our school lunch program. The present school lunch program is ruining future milk drinkers by not having good tasting whole milk that is the best choice for students' health. All dairy farmers must immediately confer with members of Congress and the current administration to correct the inequities in the school lunch program and allow whole milk, both white and flavored, to be offered to students.
7) Public hearings must be held to investigate the effect the continued use of protein products derived from milk, including casein, milk protein concentrate (MPC), ultra-filtered milk, etc. have had on the farm price for milk and the price consumers are paying for milk and dairy products and to determine safety and nutritional impacts of these proteins on human health.
Do you need a reason to do the above? The reason is that the milk you produce in December and January will go way below $17 per cwt. It’s time to get with it.
Remember: Dairy farmers do not want a government hand-out; they want a fair price from the marketplace.
Tewksbury is the president of Pro-Ag.