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December 12, 2012

Local farmers: Policy isn't working


Although the price of milk has gone up since 2009, when it fell below $13 for much of the year, the feed increases have left the farmers in no better a situation.

“It’s the same slim margin,” she said. If the Farm Bill is not passed by Jan. 1, prices could revert back to legislation from the 1940s that would set milk prices at $38 a hundredweight. She said she doesn’t think that will happen.

But “if Congress wants small regional farms, it has to create something that will work for everyone.”

Walton dairy farmer David Stanton milks a herd of 55 Holsteins. He described the situation as “a losing proposition.” He has a towing and excavation service to help make ends meet. His wife drives a school bus to provide health insurance. Even so, with the current pricing, “I’m right at the edge all the time,” he said.

Despite that, he still enjoys farming, but he needs to earn $22 to $24 per hundredweight “to make a go of it.” A farmer with more debt would need about $28, he said. He would like to see other inequities addressed, such as farmers paying for trucking and high salaries for milk cooperative executives.

He agrees with the Farm Coalition, that the “margin insurance” proposal in the Farm Bill that would address part of the cost of production, paid by taxpayers, is inadequate. It should be replaced with a plan that is based on making sure farmers receive 100 percent of their costs from the industry, he said.

Without that, “I’m not sure what is going to happen here,” he said.

Danny Buel of Franklin milks about 50 Holsteins. There have always been problems in the industry, but the high cost of feed has been a recent issue, he said. He is not really sure what can be done to help, but pegging the price a farmer receives from producers to the cost of production would be helpful.

He said he doesn’t expect much from the Farm Bill when it is passed, but “we will get by,” he said.




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