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Letters to the Editor Policy

A Loss To Dairy Farmers

The failure of the present Unites States Congress to address the financial crisis facing all dairy farmers across the United States could cost the dairymen $15 billion during 2009. Using a multiplier factor of five, the rural economy could be losing nearly $75 billion of needed revenue. Already in rural America, various companies that service the needs of dairy farmers have found it necessary to release their workforce. We are hearing that in many areas, veterinarians are reporting fewer calls from dairy farmers, and fewer farm machinery repairs are being scheduled. In most areas at this time, the dairy farmers have not yet received the ultra-low milk prices. Their pay price for January’s milk around February 16 will be near $14.20 to $14.25 per hundredweight (cwt). However, the shocker will come around February 24, when the dairy farmers receive $9.59 per cwt for their advance checks for two weeks’ delivery of milk in February. Around March 16, the actual blend price will be barely a hair over $12.00 per cwt!

Many US Senators and Congressmen know about these upcoming prices, yet they are not willing to take corrective action. They are willing to pass two stimulus packages consisting of nearly $2 trillion, but they are not willing or do not have the guts to give the dairy farmers a pricing formula to cover their costs.

There certainly is a just need for stimulus packets, but, most assuredly, there is also a need for allowing dairy farmers to continue producing essential local supplies of milk for our nation’s consumers. The Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pro Ag), together with the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), has provided members of Congress with both emergency plans and a long-term solution to the dairy farmers’ financial crisis. The recommended solutions can be done without costing USDA any new money. To date, members of Congress choose to ignore a fair and just remedy for the economic plight of our dairy farmers.

The potential loss to dairy farmers of $15 billion and an estimated $75 billion loss to rural America is a disgrace. A larger disgrace is the fact that so many hard-working Americans are already losing their jobs through no fault of their own. Without emergency intervention, these current job losses will escalate, as more Americans lose the jobs and the businesses that depend on dairy farmers, and as dairy states lose the revenue that comes into their economies from dairy farmers. Worse yet is the reality that dairy farmers themselves will be going out of business permanently, with many of them losing their farms and their herds, while American consumers will lose more of the farmers who produce fresh, local milk for their dairy products.

Everyone wants to know why this is happening. The continued global “free trade” mentality of many of our so-called “leaders” is coming home to roost. Unfortunately, it is our working class of Americans who are paying the majority of the penalty for the free-wheeling, special interest trade agreements which, in essence, in most cases, have been classified as “treaties” by legal sources who claim that these “treaties” usurp the American Constitution! What a thought!

Despite heroic efforts made by several dairy farmers across the United States to get the message about the collapsing milk prices to elected officials in the Senate and the House of Representatives, the US Congress continues to turn a deaf ear to the dairy farmers and their message about the financial meltdown facing them on their farms.

I understand that many of the unemployed workers may receive some compensation and help with their health insurance premiums. Although this is a help, it will still fall way short of the ongoing needs of many of the workers. Where is there any common sense commitment in current government policies to put our abandoned workers back to work and preserve the jobs that yet remain in this country?

In this national emergency, now some critical issues must be addressed by the dairy farmers themselves who belong to dairy cooperatives. I have always believed in dairy cooperatives, but I also believe that dairy cooperatives have a moral responsibility to achieve a fair price for the dairy farmers, and I certainly do not mean milk prices in the range of $9.50 to $12.00 per cwt!

Every time I talk to Senators or Congressmen about a fair dairy pricing formula, they always say that National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), whose membership consists of a significant number of dairy cooperatives across the US, blocks anything we propose. It is time that you dairy farmers who belong to the co-ops stand up and tell them that you insist on a fair price out of the marketplace. My gosh! The time is late and the situation beyond desperate. You guys must take a stand and speak out like many of the dairy farmers do in Wayne County, PA.

I have to believe that the vast majority of the 40,000 dairy farmers for whom NMPF claims to speak (or didn’t many of you dairymen know they were speaking for you?) would support a new pricing formula based on the cost of producing milk coupled with a true inventory management program.

No, it is not up to Congress now. It is up to all of you dairy farmers to demand that your dairy cooperatives get behind some sensible milk pricing formula and stop slaughtering cows!

Pro Ag can be reached at 570-833-5776 or by e-mail at proagorg@yahoo.com.


Arden Tewksbury

Manager, Pro Ag

Fair Taxes From Gas Extraction

Under current state law, towns and counties cannot assess property taxes on gas deposits or rights. Hence, they get no additional revenue from natural gas extraction, but must keep the roads and bridges open under heavy truck traffic and provide social and law enforcement services.

Both county (CCAP) and township (PSATS) associations propose the state allow property taxes on gas rights based on lease values. This proposal is neither fair nor practical.

How do we assess fairly the "value" of underground gas rights separately from surface rights? Gas companies pay different lease prices for comparable land at different times. If gas can't be extracted, or the property is not leased, is the value zero? It's hard to make fair assessments and to administer this tax.

Governor Rendell proposes a new severance tax on gas at the wellhead of effectively 6% at current prices, in addition to existing income taxes on royalties and corporate earnings. Too much taxation can drive gas producers to other states. We need a balance that keeps us competitive and fairly recompenses the gas-producing towns, counties, and landowners.

If gas is extracted, state tax revenue is increased by the new profits and royalties. By allocating a significant part of gas-based royalty and corporate income taxes and, if passed, severance taxes to the counties and towns from which those tax revenues were generated, the gas-rights owners pay a tax not paid by surface-only owners. The new revenue can pay for the new services and reduce local property taxes. Any severance tax should be kept low to encourage production here and should flow mostly to the gas-producing local governments.

This approach treats both types of property owners fairly, pays for the added community services, and can be administered as easily as the gasoline/fuel tax allocation for road maintenance. For more information, go to www.jessupjottings.blogspot.com.


Gene Famolari

Montrose, PA

Stuck In The Middle

In this corner are the Democrats, and in this corner are the Republicans. Can you see where this is going?

In the middle are the American people, too proud to complain. Americans who have no jobs and are trying to figure out why. Could it be, the high price of gasoline milked our economy dry? Add it up! Oh, by the way, the jobless are not only Democrats, they are Republicans, too. Are all you laid off workers going to allow, say 300 government officials, let you down? Call them on the carpet, man!

Why doesn't the government just distribute the money immediately? Government should arrest the people who made this happen, then give out the money, that is the job of government, to enforce laws. America wants to work. Not fight. Fighting takes time. Tempers flair in times like these, yes. Now is not the time for fighting. Bucking the system now only sets America back further. The first $350 billion was sent out ASAP. Now we need the rest. Right or wrong, spend or save? Pork used to be a good tasting meat, pork wow, only they will be eating pork, and we will be eating cake. Wow, it's our country, man!

I have a feeling that, for some reason, someone does not want to see President Obama's plan work. I can see a fight brewing, more than the likes of the Civil War. Giving our country another black eye, for spite, and cutting their noses off to spite their faces. Hoping, in the back of their minds, that Obama's plan fails and the few rich folks will celebrate.

Then what, by then they might have the money that they saved, so as to make Obama's plan fail, but what good will it do them? Why, free speech, free press, free everything in America. I am afraid that the richest of the rich won't know how to fight but they will know (who).

America, I must say this is my opinion but, if Obama's plan fails and the world banks go under, you maybe waking up to a nightmare of fighting on American soil once again. This time it will be American against American.

Sanitizing instead of Hanitizing America (only my opinion). You don't have to be an economist to see what is wrong here.


Peter A. Seman

Thompson, PA

A Contradiction?

I've been reading, with a great deal of interest, the ongoing debate regarding the police protection offered in New Milford, and the reluctance of other communities to hire this efficient team. I have been introduced to these gentlemen, and can assure you they are by-the-book. I also have seen the setup outside the local establishments, and was sitting inside and watched the license plates being recorded. I was in the company of others and after much discussion, it was agreed no one was going to go outside and call him on it.

What I don't understand is this, if these activities are not going on, and there isn't some sort of harassment, then why does only the New Milford District Magistrate have a long list of DUI offenders that he is prosecuting, while two other magistrates only have one or two?

Maybe the statistics were given, but not to the one who was sent to assure the others this wasn't happening.

I hope the cut to New Milford isn't substantial, or everyone will get the same opportunity to get their name in the paper, I mean .08 is just one drink, and heaven knows who we are.


Cynthia Allen

Summersville, PA

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