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Join Me in Helping Dairy Farmers
June 22, 2018
When the Pennysaver reached out and asked about ideas for an article for Dairy Appreciation Month focusing on the struggles our farmers are facing and possibly how they and the public can help, it just clicked with me, it is time to ask for, collect, and distribute house hold ‘grocery store’ donations to our struggling friends. Why? Because due to this crisis, their ‘paycheck’ is no longer enough to pay the farm operation bills let alone the mortgage, the electric, the natural gas, the phone, the internet, and the T.V. bills or the gas needed to go to the store and they don’t have any cash left over for that trip to the grocery store.
If you want to help, please consider purchasing some of these non-perishable items listed below on your next shopping trip… and the one after that… and the one after that….
If you would, please include a ‘Dear Farmer’ card with your donation. On the front of it please write “From Zipcode xxxxx.” That will help me figure out which farms are closest to you. Inside write your contact information and a personal note – these really do help! I know every single dairy mom, dad and kid out there is going to want to write you back and say THANK YOU!
Fundraiser for Tioga County Farmers – July 4, 2018 update.
On Saturday June 23 from 10 am to 5 pm a drop off of donations was held at the empty dairy barn with the For Sale sign posted in the front yard on Spencer Road in Mansfield, PA. The turnout was great and we are so appreciative of the donations made. Thank you consumers!
Mike and Cathy Buckwalter who rent the farm and Gordon Wood who owns the farm, graciously agreed to let me use the barn as a drop off point for donations. The Buckwalter’s are just one of several farms in the county who have stopped milking. Many more are on the verge of going out, filing bankruptcy and sadly some are under public foreclosure proceedings and the state public tax auction signs have been posted. Mike and I spent the day talking about past, present and future dairies in the county while our local dairy promotion princes and princesses waved to passerbys and held up signs saying Farmers We Are Proud of You.
When we tallied up who is still shipping milk in our county the numbers are dwindling rapidly. My tally to date for Tioga County is under 70. What that means is that 20, 30, 40 other farms have ceased operations due to this ‘industry comes first’ it’s just business hardship. But it is much more than that. That means 160, 240, 320 workers are out of work and under extreme emotional distress at the month after month indifference to their financial situation.
A family dairy utilizes the entire family unit to produce the milk that pays the taxes, pays the utilities, pays the living essentials for multiple households. Those ‘workers’ are part of that family unit. Without the passion and pride in owning a dairy operation who would want to work such a hard life? Why would anyone who does not have a stake in the right to farm want such a life?
School taxes just arrived. They are higher. Who is the backbone of our school system but the farming family. We can raise taxes to pay for a new school, to cover guaranteed by law teacher salaries and pensions and benefits but we can’t create a tax or invest state funds to modernize and stabilize the most important industry in our state – the dairy farm family operation. The people who have the knowledge skill and ability to feed and cloth us at the worst of times. But during the best of times for the ‘rest of us’ they are abandoned in their time of need?
Think on that the next time you hear that the industry can’t survive without migrant labor or without one unbroken line of integration. The vertical integration of the industry has forced out American workers over the insanity of vanity driven greed. There is no competition when the farmer is the employee of the dealer-processor-retailer and has no say in his compensation and no union to represent him. But as the property owner his taxes can and do go up and he must either pay them or lose his and his families life investment to another backed by the very industry that refused to pay him enough to remain solvent. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
I am talking about the vertical integration of our food supply straight up the ladder through the bankers and investors to the Chicago Board of Trade and Wall street. The price of milk starts there and our elected officials have done nothing to address the monopoly that controls our entire food system. Millions of investors making billions off the pennies on the dollar taken from the paycheck of these families enslaved to the market who have now lost their jobs and are losing their homes – and many feel that was the whole point as someone else wants their land. Welcome to the new America. The more dairy you consume, the richer they have continued to get while the crack in the foundation of our country as a democracy widens to a chasm.
This fundraiser threw a line of hope to those struggling to see past the doom. I saw it in their eyes when I stopped by their farm. Knowing people care is food for the soul and why I advocate for them. Please consider doing the same and stopping at a farm and just say hello. Let them know who you are and that you care and listen to what they have to share. You can make a difference for them by speaking out on their behalf.
I want to thank each and everyone of you who donated household cleaning supplies, tires and gift certificates in this fund drive. I am in the process of delivering them throughout the county to producers who need the emotional lift in spirit of knowing the consumer and their neighbor cares. I don’t have enough for everyone so please continue donating and I will make sure your contribution goes to a dairy producer in need.
If you want to make a check donation to a specific farm or to help me with the delivery expenses or any third party expense farmer households have like car tires, car inspection, oil change, washing machine repair, computer repair, hair stylist, dentist, eye doctor visit, masseuse – chiropractor, swimming pool/park tickets I will accept checks and gift certificate made out in their name.
Remember, this crisis is not limited to our county. Please contact me if you can host a similar event.
Melissa Bravo / 814-574-4067 / Facebook /
Melissa Bravo, Certified Crop Advisor, http://agricultureadvocate.org/
Meadow Lake Farm Consulting Services / Tioga County, PA/ Lawrenceville PA 16929
Laundry Room *
A sturdy clothesbasket so I can pack the items for delivery
Power outage candles
Black garbage bags
Toilet bowl cleaner
Vet Gift Certificate
Lawn care and flower care service **
Lawn care and flowerbed services are a great volunteer offer or can be pre-paid through a local lawn care company. Gas is so expensive right now and farmers have big yards!
Auto store certificate
Check for gasoline
Check for tires***
Mechanic shop certificate
Car maintenance is a difficult expense for farmers right now. I will add about 10,000 miles to my car to deliver donations to all remaining producers in the county.
Land Line Bill
Cell Phone Bill
Swimming Pool Outing
Amusement Park Outing
Fair and Festival Tickets
If you want to pay their bill and give them a note that you did or that you bought season tickets for them in their name – go for it!
Non melting Barn Snacks
Chocolate syrup (LOTS)
Ice cream stand gift certificate