Emergency Session on Dairy Crisis Unites Voices on Need for Base Price and Quota

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Emergency Session on Dairy Crisis Unites Voices on Need for Base Price and Quota

August 13, 2018 – by Melissa Bravo

AgriMark, Albany New York Emergency Session on Dairy Crisis Unites Voices

You know when a national dairy industry cooperative calls for intervention from the Federal Government, financial, mental, physical and emotional health has reached a tipping point for owners and workers.

Who are the enslaved owner-workers of this mega industry? They are the dairy farmer down the road in crisis for the third consecutive year – and they are not alone.

This is just one cooperative (coop) shouting for help for their membership, taking the lead to save their own. The rest are hoping they will be rescued too, but their leadership has yet to speak up loud enough to be heard.

https://www.agrimark.coop/press_releases/

But the organization went further than this press release and letter to the Secretary. They did so by acknowledging the demand of their members to hold a public meeting.

When it rains it pours. That adage held true on Monday, August 13 when hundreds of farmers from all over the country hired someone else to milk their cows and do the chores so they could drive to Albany.

You see, the power the remaining 40,000 (or less) dairy farmers have at this point cannot be ignored.

The industry and the federal regulations promulgated 80 years ago to protect the individual independent producer farmer at a time when three times that number existed are now in danger of being declared null and void.

In a democracy and free market economy people have the right to pursue a career, market the fruits of their labor, set a price above cost of production, and invest in how they choose to live within the social structure of their country. No one does all that to brag about being below the poverty level.

The monopoly controlling agriculture production is taking away that fundamental right to prosperity. The indifference of our elected officials to protect the citizenship of this country from ‘harm’ reeks of deliberate collusion to take away this constitutional right.

The lack of oversight and enforcement of existing federal and state authorities, in the last two decades, to prevent the consolidation and integration of the agriculture commodity sector into one, two, three entities – one giant three legged stool of monopoly – has brought us all to this meeting.

Canada reacted to the plight of her farming community by passing a national quota system fifty years ago to stabilize dairy product price so they could survive. She moved to protect her own and she is damn proud of it, and so are her producers.

It is time the United States Department of Agriculture acts to protect her own. All of us, and it is long overdue. As the guest speaker from the Canadian Dairy Farmers of America stated in this meeting, “Once you get over Fifty everything goes to Hell.”

The proposals presented at this historic meeting focused on how the United States Government could rebuild this ruin, this utter destruction, this catastrophic list of losses inflicted upon the tax paying dairy product producers in this Nation. Whose entire purpose for living is the right to farm to produce food to feed their family, their township, their county, their state, and their country profitably – first; before taking on the noble task of feeding the rest of the world.

Sadly the reverse priority is what has brought us to this climatic event in our food independence as a Nation.

AgriMark and her farmer members were not alone at this meeting. Did the legislature representing the United States of America attend? Perhaps they sent someone. Did prospective legislatures championing the cause to rescue the drowning swimmer attend? Absolutely.

The call to action did bring out policy analysts, media representatives, economists and oh boy, yeah, lawyers. Antitrust Lawyers, Free Commerce Lawyers, Interstate Trade Lawyers, Tariff Lawyers, and even one or two well-meaning anti-animal farming advocates who clearly did not see the danger of coming into a collapsing building and shouting the roof was leaking.

Are consumers in this country aware they are being blamed for causing the conditions that led to the farmer drowning in this ‘the worst it’s been since historical records began’ man-made flood of milk catastrophe? The lawyers would like us to think so.

I personally think this crisis is because of the never ending flow and storage of milk product surplus caused by two million too many dairy cows under the control of a few mega corporations posing as ‘a family owned farming business’, and the manipulation of volume subjected to piece meal price incentives and deductions, and the control by the monopoly on how food is presented, marketed, distributed and sold to the consumer.

Butter, butter, better, better… while kids drink the swill, tasteless, flavorless water left over.

Perhaps it is time to define in law for the purpose of supporting our constitution that a handful of multi-billion dollar ‘family farm business’ are not the same as 100,000 farming families scratching out a living from farming. In fact the one has usurped the market, the right, and the ability of the other to survive – and this is the end result.

I want a do over. We need a two tiered system to get a handle on this class system that now exists in this country. Equal rights for both and equal gain and pain. Equal in the market place which means not allowing monopoly of price, volume, buyer, seller, legislature, law, or policy for the gain of a few over the expense of the most. Is that too much to ask of the elected leadership of these United States?

The price of butter, cheddar by the way, is set by the Federal Government and the manipulation of supply and demand to funnel that price premium into investors pure profit line instead of requiring cost of production be paid first (paying the farmer a living wage is a cost of production) is the gold standard these days. Seriously, the more you like your cheese and whey the more they are going to make it. Milk is now the by-product of that gold brick and being dumped as waste. You can’t make the one without the other. If the market has reversed the value of milk components, the payment to the producer farmer has to as well.

By the way, if you are a consumer of dairy products and you purchase dairy products through the retail market you might want to take stock of the way self-interest groups use the power of archaic laws to protect ‘you’ against the farmer trying to stabilize market conditions. The examples provided at the opening of this hearing were clearly meant to discourage farmers from ever uniting against the trucker – dealer- processor – buyer – seller trillion dollar corporate entities that control the advertising and marketing of the entire food chain in this country.

It would be nice if a group would step forward and challenge this abuse of laws written when whole food came from multiple individual independent farmers working there and your fields in your own county, from your own country, to put food on your plate. Not from a petri-dish experiment cooked up in a laboratory after mashing up some almonds and caterpillar parts.

I was unable to attend this historic event in person. So I watched it online, as did thousands of others staying put due to the ongoing flood situation in NY and PA; or by the raging fires in California; or the dust storms in Arizona. We are indebted to the Leach’s for putting the meeting up live on their FaceBook feed. https://www.facebook.com/kate.c.leach/videos/10156296711276609/.

And there is more good news. The event host has made available a website www.dairyproposals2018.com where you can find all of the proposals submitted for the meeting up for review and comment. See for yourself the state of the dairy industry and where we need to go from here. There is also a section where you can submit a new proposal. They are hoping that this website serves as a starting point for proposals to be reviewed and start gaining support from the industry.

I submitted three band aid proposals for the hearing and will make them available on this website. Perhaps if we all do the same, unite behind the voices and groups who have the tenacity and desire to help, we can bring not only immediate financial relief to the dairy farmer but a lifetime of support.

*August 24th – correction noted (Price of milk is set by cheddar, not butter, thank you reader)

Giant Hogweed in the News

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Article adapted from http://www.wellsborohomepage.com/giant-hogweed-in-the-news/

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) in Pennsylvania

By Melissa A. Bravo, M.S. Weed Science, Invasive Species Specialist

Hi everyone, over the past few weeks, a plant called Giant Hogweed has been in the news and I am sure you have been wondering if we have any around here. Hogweed is a member of the carrot family, a large member! The flower looks very much like Queen Anne’s lace only it is the size of a hula hoop. The sap can cause severe burns if the juice is not washed off and your skin is exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time. This is called a phyto-photo-dermatitis reaction and it can result in a severe 2nd and even a 3rd degree burn in extreme cases. Unfortunately, it is also highly invasive once it hits the riparian corridor and moves out into the flood plain during flooding instances. Because it is a federal noxious weed it is illegal to plant, sell or trade this plant. Mostly what we see now are wild populations that keep spreading. Many homeowners still have this plant in their landscape beds and are just unaware of the program or the problem.

I was the Giant Hogweed Program Manager for Pennsylvania from 2005 to 2012. I recently conducted a radio interview on the plant and its poisonous attributions. Here is a link to The Poison Terminator podcast Go to https://radiopublic.com/the-poison-terminator-8QrMnr/ep/s1!0329c

PA Program: Pennsylvania discovered its first wild population of giant hogweed in 1985 in Erie County two years after the federal government declared the plant a noxious weed. GH has probably been in Pennsylvania since the early 1900’s but only in the last 25 years have wild populations been reported to officials. Rochester, NY has records of plant sightings dating to the early 1900’s.

In 1983, the United States Department of Agriculture Plant Pest Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) declared the plant a federal noxious weed and targeted giant hogweed (GH) for eradication nationwide. As of 2011, GH had been found in 18 states and in Canada. It was added to the PA Noxious Weed Control List in 2000. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) and USDA/APHIS launched the GH Hotline in 1998 and created a national giant hogweed campaign to promote awareness of this poisonous plant.

As of 2012, the last year I worked on the program, 453 sites have been found in 17 PA counties. My crew and I worked throughout the state educating homeowners and eradicating the infestations with mechanical and chemical control measures. The closest population to Tioga County was in Potter County along the streambank below Carter Camp to Ole’ Bull Park. More than 55% of the Pennsylvania populations were found in Erie County. Nearby sites are known in Crawford, Mercer, McKean, Venango, and Warren Counties. Isolated sites are also known from Elk, Potter, Butler, Blair, Huntingdon, Carbon, and Wayne counties.

The state wide targeted eradication program was very successful and we declared 325 of these sites eradicated in 2012. As of 2012, only 74 (16%) of the 453 known sites in Pennsylvania remained active. However stream bank sites must always be monitored as seed may be reintroduced during flooding events.
New York began its eradication program in 2011 and quickly identified more than 900 sites in 35 counties. Here is the link to the NY program https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/39809.html

If you have any questions or concerns about poisonous plants on your property please give me a call.