Straight Talk by Pete Hardin on the Dairy Crisis

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Concerned dairy producers,

If you do not subscribe to the dairy’s best information and insights newsletter and economic analysis report entitled “The Milkweed“, I encourage you to do so.

Below is a snip-it of a Pete’s take on the crisis in NY as written in the May 2018 issue.

The July issue is chock full of economic data and price points and spells out what the trade tariffs and hostilities towards our neighboring countries are doing to the real time commodity market for millions of U.S. Farmers. In his Straight Talk column, Hardin talks about the “dangerous witch’s brew of events threatening to boost inflation while simultaneously pushing the nation’s economy into recession.”

If you would like a complete copy of this article “The New York State Dairy Farm Crisis” please contact me or the MilkWeed.

Hi Melissa,

As requested. You have my permission to post or reprint this story in its entirety.

Please credit The Milkweed and give our website:

Thank you!


Pete Hardin

The Milkweed

Pete Hardin, Publisher & Editor
PO Box 10
Brooklyn WI 53521-0010

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The New York State Dairy Farm Crisis
During my wet-eared years in the dairy industry (early/mid 1970s), on long rides heading home to Syracuse, from night-time dairy meetings in upstate New York with my old boss at Eastern Milk Producers – John C. York – he’d vent his frustrations at what he called the “Cornell/Dairymen’s League/Agway/Farm Bureau Conspiracy.” Those organizations, York alleged, were controlling the New York State dairy industry – to the detriment of dairy farmers and competing organizations. York was right. Well, here we are, nearly 50 years later. The New York State dairy industry is in a terrible crisis — particularly for small and medium-sized farms, the likes of which built rural New York’s economy. Among York’s alleged conspirators, the Dairymen’s League (founded by my great-grandfather) ultimately morphed, through merger, into Dairy Farmers of America. Agway – the Northeast’s then predominant farm supply cooperative – went bankrupt around 2005 (but senior management was well taken care of). Cornell University remains Cornell University – championing mega-dairies, biotechnology, etc. NY Farm Bureau remains seemingly content to whistle “Dixie” as the state’s dairy economy goes to Hades. If old John York were alive today, he’d include the Farm Credit System among New York’s dairy conspirators – particularly with the antics happening in the area served by the Watertown, NY office. In New York State, Farm Credit continues doling out loans to mega-dairies for expansions … while denying and/or cutting off credit to some lesser-sized dairy farmers. Funny thing … how funding is unavailable for some lesser-sized farms that just happen to be located next to (or near) Farm Credit financed, mega-dairies that covet their neighbors’ farmland (so the mega-dairies can add acres so they may milk more cows). In New York State, mega-dairy operators can add cows and acres at will, turning to the Empire State Development for million dollar grants (not loans, but grants) to help bankroll these expansions. Past and present, some farmers sitting on Farm Credit boards seem to have the inside track on grabbing neighboring farms when those farms become available. Basically, what New York’s dairy industry has devolved to is an insiders’ game for Cornell-educated, mega-dairy operators and their college-buddy insiders in finance and government. Many new dairy Limited Liability Corporations set up seem to qualify for new state grants … while small and medium producers lose their milk markets.

DFA deducts bleeding NY producers’ incomes … State and federal antitrust officials have snoozed as DFA has devastated competing marketers of farm milk in New York. First, DFA (and its subsidiary, Dairy Marketing Services, LLC – DMS) locked in control over a high percentage of access to fluid milk plants in the Northeast. Subsequently, “independent” dairy farmers were forced to sell their milk through DMS, and later, forced to join DFA or find other (nonexistent) markets. DFA settled one Northeast antitrust lawsuit for $50 million – peanuts on the dollar for the marketing costs that DFA extracted from Northeast producers, both members and non-members. Class members of the DFA Northeast antitrust settlement are waiting and waiting and waiting for their meager settlement checks (to average about $4,000 each).

“Or else” – DFA’s procurement tool … Post-settlement, DFA’s anti-competitive ravages have worsened. DFA’s recruitment strategy is based on the “Or Else” threat, including: •Dictating that some affiliated, smaller marketing co-ops in late 2016 that their directors had to agree to any marketing assessments dictated by DFA/DMS … or else lose their markets. •Notifying about 900 “independent” producers in the Northeast in early 2017 that they had to either join DFA later that year … or else lose their markets. • Dictating that several smaller co-ops marketing their milk in affiliation with DMS/DFA (such as the South New Berlin Co-op) had to disband and have the members join DFA … or else lose their markets. Get the picture???

…… to read the rest of this article contact the Milkweed for a PDF……..

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