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They Told It Like It Is
If there were any reservations concerning the seriousness of the plight of our area dairy farmers, certainly those reservations were put to rest at the milk hearing held on January 12 at the Tioga County Fairgrounds.
Nearly 25 dairy farmers and business people opened up their hearts and told it like it is. It didnt matter if it was some of the larger farmers in the northeast or one of the average size dairy farmers; they all told some heartrending stories about their operations. Grown men speaking about their farming operations brought tears to several eyes. Agribusiness people told about their account receivables and wondered how long they would be able to hold on. It was reported some business people did not want to testify concerning the serious state of affairs of their business.
Eric Collidge, dairy farmer and Tioga County Commissioner told me the following, "Arden, there is only one thing wrong with the hearing. It should have been filmed so other people could see the emotions on these dairy farmers faces."
Even with the adverse weather conditions, 60 people attended the hearing during the course of the day. Equally important was the number of aides present from our elected officials. Tom Bowman represented US Senator Arlen Specter; Mike Glazer from State College represented Congressman John Peterson; Arnie Kriner represented State Senator Roger Madigan; C. Russell Johnson represented State Senator Joe Scarnati; and Wendy Ribeca represented State Representative Matt Baker. Senator Santorums aide was ill and Paul Hapshatz, Regional Director of the PA Department of Agriculture was called to Harrisburg. All of the aides became involved with the people who testified and they showed deep concern about the dairy farmers plight.
Each dairy farmer that testified admitted they needed a milk price between $16 $18 per cwt. as a bare minimum. They all agreed that some type of supply management program would be needed to sustain an adequate milk price to the producers. However, they qualified their answers by saying the imports of dairy products must be curtailed, substantially before any supply management program should be implemented.
All of the farmers that testified were very critical of the amounts of products and dairy ingredients coming into the United States. Donna Hall, a diary farmer from Lycoming County, once more had her shopping cart filled with various products that contained imported milk protein concentrate (MPC) as an ingredient.
While criticism continues to flow concerning MPC, everyone must realize that most of your substitute dairy products contain sodium caseinate. Caseinate is actually casein. Casein is not manufactured in the United States, but is a dairy product imported into the United States from other countries. Imitation dairy products list sodium caseinate as a milk derivative. However, they dont tell consumers that casein is imported.
Actually, our own US Senator Arlen Specter has been fighting the casein issue for at least 15 years. This was long before people mentioned milk protein concentrate. Senator Specter always felt the amount of casein coming into the United States should be regulated and used primarily in the furniture business.
In my Webster dictionary, casein is listed as "the main product of milk that is left when the water, butterfat, and sugar are removed. It is used in making plastics, glues, coating, etc." Evidently the people that make imitation dairy products have found another use for casein, instead of glue.
This brings me to another subject. Last year, some of us sat in a meeting with various representatives of the USDA. One of them said, "Yes, we agree with your people. We figure around eight billion pounds of milk equivalent is coming into the United States."
Recently, Dr. Ken Bailey allegedly stated that dairy imports only affect the dairy farmers prices by about .05 per cwt. Where in the world would that figure come from? Do you know what? I think its time Dr. Bailey came to Susquehanna or Bradford County and debated some of our dairy farmers that certainly do not agree with him. We would be more than happy to arrange a suitable site, at Dr. Baileys convenience. We will be sending a personal letter to Dr. Bailey this week, offering the debate. I promise him a real audience.
If Dr. Baileys alleged remarks are true, then why are Congressman Don Sherwood, US Senator Arlen Specter, and others, working so diligently to bring MPC under tariff regulations? Sherwoods attempts have the strong support of most farm organizations, including the National Milk Producers Federation. The federation has played a very instrumental part in the effort to bring MPCs under tariff.
I believe we could have a real debate. The sad thing is, dairy farmers are suffering needlessly.
I must say this, a consumer recently told me, "My dog will eat all kinds of cheeses, but he wont eat Kraft Singles!"
Our Many Thanks
The Montrose Area Kiwanis would like to thank all who donated toys, food items, or time for the annual Toy Drive. All these ingredients are necessary to make this event the success it is every year. Through this program, each year the generosity of area residents is expressed. Over 300 families were able to have a merrier Christmas this year! Food baskets and gifts were distributed to area families on December 18.
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Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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