MESHOPPEN, Pa. — Editor’s note: The following letter was submitted by Ester Butcher, a dairy farmer from Pennsylvania, through the Progressive Agriculture Organization.
In 1977, my husband Gary & I purchased our local dairy farm. The farm is located between Canton & Troy, PA in the village Granville Summit. (Bradford County) Some of Gary’s family had own the farm previous to our ownership.
We felt that living and working on a dairy farm was also a great place to raise a family. We have two daughters and a son. The first few years of dairy farming proceeded as we expected. Unfortunately, as years progressed, we found it more difficult for us to cover our expenses. Now we are like many other dairy farmers, it is difficult to keep our heads above water! Even worse, the fact so many of our family dairy farmers are leaving their farms. (Maybe forced) In addition to low milk prices, we have also endured some health problems.
During the years we have been dairy farmers, we have lived through the agony of losing our dairy barn because of a fire and lost many of our cattle. Immediately we were surprised to see so many Mennonite and Amish folks who showed up and a new barn was erected. We will always be thankful to all of these people as well so many of our local people who helped keep us in business.
Unfortunately, if something isn’t done, and done soon I question how much longer we will be able to hold on.
Will someone please tell me, why dairy farmers cannot see a pay price based on their cost of production? My lord, every item that we purchase has a cost attached to it that covers the starting cost of production. Please tell me why dairy farmers cannot do the same?
Gary & I have evaluated alternative ways to price our milk. There is no question, the more reliable way we must have a system to cover our costs. (And every dairy farmers’ cost) We must have the former Spector Casey bill (The former Milk Marketing Improvement Act) re introduced and passed into law. I’m sure that some of our legislatures are aware of our problems and this bill must be introduced. If our legislatures want to maintain our family dairy farms, they must get on the ball and get the former Spector Casey bill passed. If this doesn’t happen then you will see the majority of our dairy farms disappear. We will also lose the majority of our support business.
We can’t wait two years, we must take action, and take action now.
Ester Butcher, Granville Summit
–Ester Butcher, Granville Summit
via Progressive Agriculture Organization
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