MESHOPPEN, Pa. — Editor’s note: The following guest editorial was written by Arden Tewksbury, Manager of Pro-Ag. More information about Pro-Ag can be found here.
The pay price for May’s milk has come in at an unbelievably low price of $13.47 per cwt. (hundred pounds) for the dairy farmer. This price will be about the same price as dairy farmers received in 1980. This price should be unacceptable to all dairy farmers. In all probability, June’s produced milk will even be lower than May’s.
These prices are at least $8 per cwt. below the national average cost of producing milk.
Please remember, regardless of what anyone tries to tell you, the value of milk that is used to manufacture dairy products is the same in all Federal Milk Marketing Orders. This milk represents approximately 70% of the milk that dairy farmers produce. Once more, it’s time to look back into history.
Why have dairy farmers allowed this disparity in their prices? Certainly, many dairy farmers have been listening to the wrong people. What has gone wrong?
In the late 1970’s and 1980 and 81, many dairy cooperatives working together (yes, working together) were able to move the milk support price to 80% of parity. However, we didn’t think that was high enough. At a meeting in State College, Pennsylvania, which we in Eastern Milk Producers sponsored, together we developed a resolution which the US Congress accepted, to raise the support price to 85% of parity. Also, the resolution, which Congress passed, also mandated that the support price would be readjusted on April 1st and October 1st of each year. We thought we really had things done.
However, the majority of dairy cooperatives and farm organizations did not support Eastern Milk Producers and Interstate Milk Co-op regarding the need of the base excess program. I remember the words of the late Jim Hohman, when he said, “Boys, we will get a fair price for dairy farmers, but many of them will overproduce, causing problems.”
How right Jim was. In 1981, the US Congress undid what they previously did for dairy farmers and it’s been turmoil ever since.
Today, 39 years later, almost all dairy cooperatives and farm organizations are clamoring for a supply management program at a price of $13 per cwt. for our dairy farmers. This is ridiculous!
Dairy farmers should never accept a supply management program without a fair pricing program. Never, never, never!
Remember we achieved a fair price for 1979, 80, and 81, but look what happened. In most of these years, the majority of dairy farmers have been in turmoil. Remember, a fair price for our dairy farmers, coupled with a sensible supply management program equals prosperity for all dairy farmers.
Pro-Ag can be reached at 570-833-5776.
–Arden Tewksbury, Manager of Pro-Ag
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