Sen. Leahy Proceeds to Help
Senator Patrick Leahy (D. VT.) recently announced that Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture, is responding to the Senator's request for some financial aide for United States Dairy Farmers by making special funds available now.
I was surprised to learn that Jim Mulhern, who heads up the National Milk Producers Federation raised questions regarding the level of payments that can be made to individual dairy farmers. I agree with some of Mr. Mulhern's questions. However, I have several questions regarding this financial aid to dairy farmers.
- Will the financial aid help dairy farmers cover their cost of production?
- Will the funds help all dairy farmers that participate in the insurance program that is now available?
- Will the funds help cover the substantial milk marketing costs that are taken out of many dairy farmers' milk checks? Currently, the co-operatives not only charge famers for the milk marketing costs, but they also refused to pay the special premium payments that were negotiated for our dairy farmers and which are charged to the consumer. Do they just pocket that premium money?
- Will the funds be enough to compensate dairy farmers for reduced income that resulted from the co-operatives de-pooling farmers from the federal order pool during the COVID pandemic? This single action benefited the co-operatives but hurt many dairy farmers.
- Will there be reimbursement to fluid milk handlers that were also harmed through the de-pooling action by the cooperatives?
- Will the dairy co-cooperatives and handlers pass the funds they receive on to the dairy farmers?
- Will the total value of the special funds be adequate to pay the dairy farmers the national average cost of producing milk which is $22.37 per CWT?
- We suggest that the maximum payment for production be raised from the first 5 million lbs. to the first 7 million lbs. to accommodate more family farms.
In summary, Annette Kuzma, a family farmer who is also a director in Pro-Ag, has the right answer. She says "Congress should pass legislation that establishes a new pricing formula that is based on the national average cost of production ($22.37) and should restore whole milk in public schools. These two actions would give all family dairy farmers a fighting chance to survive."
For more information, contact Arden Tewksbury at Pro-Ag 570-833-5776.
Arden Tewksbury, Pro-Ag Manager, Meshoppen, PA
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