We need a fair floor milk price

Recently as I travelled through Pike County, I picked up a copy of your recent paper [June 7].

Yes, there is a dairy farmer crisis. I have conferred with a few dairy farmers from Sullivan County. In my opinion, the current crisis is not an accident, but a removal of our family dairy farmers from their operations that was planned for many years.

I’m amazed to read about the experts that are brought into the area to educate your local dairy farmers how to manage their farms. If current dairy farmers did not know how to manage their farms, then they would all be gone.

What do local dairy farmers need? They need a fair price for their milk! Dairy farmers need and deserve a new pricing formula predicated on their cost of production. This formula must contain a milk supply management program that would curtail overproduction.

Such a program is contained in the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act that has been introduced into Congress by the late Sen. Arlen Specter and present Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., both of Pennsylvania. You can look up the bill, S1640, at www.Congress.Gov. 

Currently the Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pro-Ag) is pushing for a floor price of $20 per cwt. (hundredweight) on milk used for manufacturing dairy products. This should be implemented in three steps, and would give local dairy farmers a price of slightly over $21 per cwt.

In your paper, you mentioned a National Family Farm Coalition letter I wrote for the coalition that contained a $20 floor price. We recommend this only as a first step to save our family dairy farmers. The difference between Sen. Gillibrand’s floor price and our floor price is that Sen. Gillibrand’s floor price is dependent on government money, while ours would be funded by the marketplace.

I am calling on all dairy farmers to get behind our efforts to obtain a fair price for all dairy farmers.

Pro-Ag was the first and strongest critic of the first Margin Insurance Program. We attempted to make dairy farmers aware of the pitfalls of the program.

Let’s not keep being suckered into false security of Margin Insurance Programs.

New York dairy farmers must contact their two U.S. Senators and all New York Congress members, urging them to support our efforts. If another Farm Bill is passed that doesn’t contain a new pricing formula for all dairy farmers, then you can be sure your local family dairy farmers will be gone.

[Arden Tewksbury, is the manager of Progressive Agriculture Organization, Meshoppen, PA and on Facebook.]


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