Dairy farmers can be Good Samaritans

Wisconsin State Farmer
Letter to the Editor

With news of dumping milk over the past couple years now shifting to dairy farms potentially being dumped, today’s dairy industry would be well-served to review some of the basic lessons taught in the Good Book. Especially relevant are the lessons of mercy and being a neighbor as taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan. After being passed over by two highly-respected men, a robbed and injured traveler was helped to safety by a lowly Samaritan who showed compassion. We are shown which of these three was a neighbor to the victim, and are told to “go and do likewise.”

While the dairy industry grapples with the dilemma of what to do with extra milk, we also see news that indicates that 1 in 5 children faces hunger. In fact, the only food many children eat is what they receive while at school. This simply does not add up.

We currently have a program deducting 4 cents/cwt from farmers’ checks to subsidize exporters of dairy products known as CWT. While exports can be an important way to remove product and improve farmer pay price, they are fickle and dependent on factors well-beyond the impact of CWT subsidies.

In an effort to be compassionate neighbors and to “go and do likewise”, it would be a win-win if CWT would designate just 2 cents/cwt to compete for and remove excess cheese at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. This high-quality, protein-dense food would greatly enhance the diets of these hungry children. Food distribution networks are already in place to assist with such an effort. More than enough money would be generated by CWT’s two cents to purchase a carload of cheese every single day of the year.  There’s no way that this wouldn’t significantly improve the farmer’s pay price, utilize surplus milk, and help to alleviate hunger in our country.

Dairy Pricing Association, a voluntary farmer organization to which I belong, is already engaging in such an effort on a small scale without directly trading at the CME. This is accomplished by publicly advertising a price they are willing to pay for a carload quantity of block cheddar cheese at a given time. These offers have been answered and filled by brokers and cheesemakers who otherwise utilize the CME market. Humanitarian organizations have gladly and thankfully handled all distribution.

Please join me in calling for our industry leadership to embrace this idea and show the world that dairy farmers can be Good Samaritans and find the answer to our problems by helping our neighbors who are in need.

Simon Yoder

Guthrie, KY