De-pooling Dairy Farmers Is Not the Answer

Guest Editorial by Arden Tewksbury

 

The recent announcement that the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) petitioned the Market Administrator of Federal Order #1 to De-pool 900 dairy farmers that DFA has marketed for a period of time under the umbrella of Dairy Marketing Service (DMS) is certainly earthshaking, unconscionable and, in my opinion, unethical.

The bulk of these dairy farmers are either independent dairy farmers or members of dairy co-operatives.

While outlets for dairy farmers’ milk may be a little tight this spring, one must remember that DMS or DFA has voluntarily marketed these dairy farmers’ milk.  I’m sure no one forced them to market it.

I’m aware that the dairy farmers in New York State have increased their production by four per cent.  Some of this increase is probably related to the inadequate price that all dairy farmers are receiving.

I wonder if the increased use of the questionable milk protein concentrate (MPC) is displacing volumes of regular powdered milk and bears some of the responsibility of creating a false increase in production. I don’t have to wonder that some politicians in New York State urged dairy farmers to produce more milk to become the “yogurt capitol of the world.”

Maybe DFA should turn to these politicians and ask them, “What do we do now?”  We have to face the reality that 900 dairy farmers may be wandering around not knowing what might happen to them.

I’m the last person to suggest that dairy farmers have more deductions from their milk checks.  We have always worked for all dairy farmers to receive a fair price for their milk.

On February 7 we sent an alternative proposal to the Market Administrator of Order #1 urging that Market Administrators allow DFA to have a legal deduction agreement between DFA and the 900 producers to equal what DFA members are being charged.

This practice has been done several times in the past. To de-pool these 900 dairy farmers could mean they face the crisis of their lifetime, and this just should not happen.

If you don’t like our idea than you’d better hurry up and submit your own plan to the Market Administrator’s office!

If you agree to our plan – working to give 900 dairy farmers a chance to stay in business until a real solution is developed – then you should contact the Market Administrator’s office in Albany (518-452-4410) or in Boston (617-737-7199).

The email address in Albany is pfredericks@fedmilk1.com and the email for Boston is NorthEastOrder@fedmilk1.com.

Every dairy farmer has a stake in this dilemma.  A dairy farmer not reacting may help bring the same problem to their farm.  Let’s stop this now.

Arden Tewksbury, Pro-Ag Manager, may be reached at 570-833-5776 or at progressiveagriculture@gmail.com.