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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.
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)