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September 16, 2009 - 10:04am

Farmers to rally in Le Roy this morning calling on Paterson to release stimulus funds

posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, steve hawley, Dairy Farms.

Local dairy farmers will join Assemblyman Steve Hawley in a rally in Le Roy at 11 a.m., calling on Gov. David Paterson to use federal stimulus funds to aid struggling dairies.

The dairy industry is caught between historically low prices for milk and rising production costs.

Stimulus funds are needed to stabilize Western New York's economy and create and maintain jobs, according to Hawley.

Hawley will be joined at the rally by Assemblyman Cliff Crouch (R,I-Guilford).

Statement issued by Hawley's office:

New York State's family dairies are currently facing the most difficult economic conditions in the modern history of the industry. Dairy producers are being paid prices that are catastrophically below the price of production for their milk, regardless of the size of their operations, and economists predict that fluid milk prices may not increase for another year.

The governor's office has indicated that the stimulus funds can't be used in such a manner, but at the same time, a Catholic charity in Buffalo recently received stimulus funds to support its efforts.

The rally will be at Stein Farms, 8343 Gully Road, Le Roy.

Lorie Longhany
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Supporting our dairy farmers is paramount. Reforming the broken system which has fueled this collapse is what the dairy hearing at GCC was all about and what is needed. http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/18133/schumer-seeks-relief-f... “At the same time farmers all over this country are going into debt or being driven off the land . . . major dairy processors, like Dean Foods, are making record profits,” Sanders said. “There’s too much concentration in the industry,” Schumer said.”In New York, Dean controls 85 percent of the market.” “If you don’t have competition, they can squeeze the farmer at the end and squeeze the consumer at the other,” Schumer said.
Richard Gahagan
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So now its the major dairy producers that are evil corporations ruining america to go along with the evil oil companies, auto companies, electric power companies, health care insurers and any other private industry the democrats want to take control over. Why can't the dems stop trying to control every single aspect of our lives. Do you know how much milk should cost are you going to set the price. Let the free market work and keep government out of private industry.
Lorie Longhany
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Richard, the farmers are getting half of what they used to get per hundred weight putting them in the red. They are suffering tremendous losses. Have you noticed your dairy products going down 50%? Milk prices maybe have gone down 5% at the grocery store and some products have not gone down at all. This isn't being passed on to the consumers. Dairy farmers are my neighbors. They need relief or many that haven't already gone out of business, will.
Bea McManis
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“Dairy farms throughout the north and northeast are facing the worst economic crisis they’ve ever experienced,” said Dean Norton, dairy farmer and president of the New York farm bureau. More than 200 people attended a formal Senate committee hearing on August 27th at Genesee Community College to witness the testimonies of several dairy leaders and economic experts who proposed possible causes of the deep price decline in milk, and various short and long term solutions on how to deal with it. “The loss of local-producing, family-owned dairies poses a huge threat to the safety of the American food supply,” U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand said during the hearing. “Giving up our ability to produce our own food is something we can not afford to do as a nation and is a grave national security threat.” Indeed, several of the dairy farmers on the panel — including Barb Hanselman of Delaware County, Robin Keller of Byron, N.Y., and Robert Church of Auburn, N.Y. — affirmed their growing fears and frustrations. “I must say, and I am the eternal optimist — that this is a very difficult time. There are forecasts that 25 percent of dairy farmers will be forced out of their livelihood before our industry rights itself. As we struggle to survive through these times we need to make changes to ensure the dairy industry’s long-term strength and viability,” said Hanselman. Yet, the short-term circumstances are dire. “The problem we are facing today is the revenues are not large enough to cover the expenses required to produce milk. This has resulted in the producers using the equity in their business — that would have been saved for retirement — to finance daily operations. Many farmers are now experiencing losses in excess of 100 dollars per cow per month. This is taxing our ability to remain in a financial position that will support sustainability,” said Church. Hanselman proposed several problems related to the current dairy crisis including frustrations with the make allowance, the burden of hauling costs on dairy farmers, the role of cooperatives and processors, and issues with the U.S. policy on dairy imports. “The greatest challenge I have today as a producer is the disjunction between the price I am paid for the milk I produce, and the expenses it costs me to produce it. I have no control over the price I am being paid. If I have no guarantee of being paid for my production costs, I have no understanding why federal policy guarantees processors their costs of production,” said Hanselman. Hanselman also discussed the complications related to dairy trading. “The price of milk is decided by the trading of less than two percent of the milk produced in this country on the Chicago mercantile exchange. The pricing structure is formatted so that the cheese traded today will dictate the price of milk three months from now. The fact that such a small percentage of the country’s milk production is being traded to dictate the other 98 percent’s price, as well as having so few participants involved in the trading - it is a very thinly-traded market — it seems that there could be a great chance for anti-competitive conduct. There have been concerns of price fixing, price manipulation, and predatory behavior,” said Hanselman. Further, Hanselman suggested that the role of cooperatives and mega-processors might not always have the farmer’s best interest as their primary goal. “The mega-processors — such as Dean Foods —dictate a lot of how our cooperatives interact with us as producers. They have had played a huge role in dictating how the consumer decides to buy what milk, what technology should be used in producing milk, and what milk is good and bad for them,” said Hanselman. Keller and several additional panel members suggested that New York should follow California’s example and promote milk with high proteins, as well as advocate a northeast regional pricing system. California — the country’s leading dairy producer - is the only state to opt out of the federal pricing system. California’s “happy cow” campaign is pushed even into New York airwaves. Keller believes that California dairy producers get a higher price and consumers get a more nutritious product because of the program. However, Bruce Krupke, executive vice president of the Northeast Dairy Foods Association, was adamantly against an artificial price increase and favored a homogeneous national policy that would reduce competition between processors, allowing the markets to determine the price. Congressman Eric Massa from Corning — who also sits on the House Agriculture Committee —disagreed with Krupke and stated that there are indeed problems within the federal pricing system. “I’m not in favor of one size fits all,” Massa said. “My job is to protect New York. Let me be very clear about that. That’s what I’m here to do. I’m absolutely not interested in Happy California cows. I’m absolutely committed to thriving and surviving New York farms.” Another concern raised by several panel members is the use of imported, unregulated milk protein concentrate (MPC) both on a safety level, and also as a detriment for domestic dairy producers by limiting the amount of fluid milk required by processors for their products. “It is paramount of that the standards of production of milk products be held to the same level for imports as they are domestically. They also need to be required to pay tariffs as in food when they are using manufacturing in this country. I realize it’s a global economy, but we as U.S. consumers need to know that the same standards and regulations that U.S. dairy producers uphold exist for the products that are imported,” said Hanselman. Massa also addressed the issues involved with U.S. import and export policies on the dairy industry. “A butterfly sneezes in New Zealand and farmers in western New York State go out of business and frankly that is just not right. We need to put in place the shock absorbers that are so critical so that domestic production is not held hostage by fluctuations in foreign markets of which we have no control — and no desire to control. We are on the verge of importing more foodstuffs than we make ourselves and no where is that more dangerous than milk protein concentrate. We need to encourage a domestic market,” said Massa. Additionally, Gillibrand has proposed doubling the milk income loss contract (MILC) payment rate and doubling the cap. Several panel members also agreed that all programs need to focus on the importance of encouraging the consumption of dairy products. “An increase in consumer use of dairy products would be the best way for farmers to obtain a higher price for their product,” said Church. Finally, Hanselman stressed the importance of keeping the younger generation of farmers inspired. “This is an industry that needs young people. The industry is only vital when there are young minds and strengths to fuel the future and guarantee its perpetuation.” http://www.lancasterfarming.com/node/2262
Robert Harding
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Here are the facts: (1) The issues affecting dairy farmers are being addressed. Instead of holding a rally calling on the governor to release stimulus funds, why not call your respective members of Congress and urge them to push for quick action on the $350 million in aid to dairy farmers that has been passed by committees in both houses but needs final passage in order to be delivered. (2) Any funds - even the $350 million in aid - will be band-aid. The dairy farmers can ask all they want for stimulus funds. Maybe they will be successful? But that will not solve the problem and will only be a short-term fix. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not big on short-term fixes. We need long-term solutions. One long-term solution I see is a bill sponsored by Congressman Scott Murphy from New York. The legislation is called the Dairy Relief and Market Stabilization Act and would address the problems faced by dairy farmers. We also need to address the foreign market and the import of milk. Like any other imports, the free trade of milk makes it hard for our domestic producers to compete. We need to make it easier for our domestic producers and make it harder for imports. Our dairy farmers deserve nothing less. (3) Those that are pinning this on the Democrats apparently aren't well informed. Scott Murphy, the aforementioned congressman who is sponsoring the Dairy Relief and Market Stabilization Act, is a Democrat. Both of our senators - Gillibrand and Schumer - have been proactive and Gillibrand especially has fought hard for dairy relief. She sits on the Agriculture Committee and is pushing for short-term and long-term solutions to the dairy crisis. Republicans are also helping in the effort. This is a bi-partisan objective. Both parties are impacted by this and they are doing everything they can to fix it. The $350 million put forth to provide short-term relief was backed by Democrats and Republicans alike. That is tough to find in Washington D.C. these days. (4) Some might not like, but large dairy companies are a problem. I know that there are farmers around here that produce milk for these companies. The question they should also be asking (on top of the subject matter we have already discussed) is how much they are getting for THEIR milk from these companies that, in turn, market it and sell it under their label and make more money off of it than the dairy farm gets. There is something wrong with that. It shouldn't the only focus here, but it should be something we look at in reforming the whole system.
E. S. Sherman
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What bothers me the most is that no one is concerned in this country how much of our food is imported. We are all concerned about putting in place all the laws to limit what chemicals are used in this country but it really doesn't matter when a good share of your food is now coming from other country who have no controls on pesticides and such. No one knows what the farmers production costs have risen compared to what the price for milk has gone down. The thing is you can ship your milk to whomever you want but probably one way or another your check still comes from a conglomerate. It used to be that all milk was bought by the plant. Now who really owns the plant. A lot of the milk is still paid for by Dairy Marketing Services which if you really check into it is controlled by Dean foods.....if you want to go to dairymarketingservices.com oops the link appears to be broken.....oh how true that is. One of Deans biggest buyers is (oh what a surprise) Walmart. Until we don't have mega this and mega that the small farm or whatever may not survive.
Richard Gahagan
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Throwing government pork money at cows is not going to change anything.
E. S. Sherman
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Richard i agree with that. There is so much more that needs to be done and it doesn't involve government giving money
Sean Valdes
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I don't think I fully understand the issue with milk prices. I do know that dairy farmers are really being hurt by the current situation and that we need to change something real quick or our milk supply is big trouble, BUT I'm not really sure of the inner workings of the problem. Does anyone have a website that lays it all out for me? Thanks!!
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Lorie Longhany
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One way that I try and do my part to support the local farmers is buying products that have the Upstate label. Upstate is a cooperative owned by the farmers. The whipped cream is much better than Reddi-Whip and comes in a bigger can (lasts longer). We have bought a lot of milk over the years and I trust the Upstate label more than any brand seen on the shelves and always reach for it, even if I see a brand sitting beside it a few cents cheaper. While I don't know for sure Upstate milk comes directly from Genesee County cows -- I do believe that there's a good chance. If you go to Dean Foods website and see just how big their reach is in this market -- it's pretty clear that one major problem is the strangle hold they have on the production market. http://www.deanfoods.com/brands.aspx
Bea McManis
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It has to be a slap in the face for the dairy farmers when they sell their milk at record low prices, then go to the grocery store and purchase butter, cheese, and other dairy products selling for record high prices.

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