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Scare tactics used again on milk prices

By Arden Tewksbury

For the Capital Press

Some in Congress are using scare tactics over milk prices in the debate over a new Farm Bill instead of working on a plan that would set a fair price.

Some members of Congress are again using scare tactics on consumers in an attempt to obtain a new farm bill.

In addition, dairy farmers are being used as pawns by the same congressmen as an example of what the consequences could be to consumers if a new farm bill is not passed.

These congressmen are saying that milk prices to consumers could double if a new farm bill is not passed by Oct. 1. The assertion is that if a new farm bill is not passed, the 1949 Ag Act would be implemented.

On Jan. 1, 2013, that same threat was being predicted if action was not taken by Congress. However, action was taken by Congress to prevent the implementation of the 1949 Act. At that time, scare tactics were being used on consumers — threats of $8 per gallon milk prices.

That didn’t happen then and in all probability will not happen now. Even if the 1949 Act had been implemented on Jan. 1, we estimated the price would have been approximately $5.65 per gallon to consumers. Actually, prices to consumers dropped around 20 cents per gallon instead of rising.

Dairy farmers should not be used as pawns by Congress. At a time when many dairy farmers are scrambling to stay in business, we certainly don’t need these scare tactics to scare consumers away from using milk. Fluid milk sales have been declining recently and some of this decline could be associated with scare tactics that were used on Jan. 1.

Any time there are controversies in agriculture, it seems that milk and our dairy farmers take the brunt of the blame.

It’s time for Congress to step in and take real corrective action to relieve the financial burden that is being experienced by dairy farmers.

Ever since 1981 Congress has failed to cope with the real problem facing the majority of dairy farmers. The pricing formula used to determine the value of milk at the farm level must be changed. If the parity price contained in the 1949 Act is not feasible, then it’s time a new pricing formula be implemented that reflects the dairy farmers’ costs. Anything else is just not feasible and should not be accepted by dairy farmers.

Unfortunately, Congress has failed to give just consideration to the Specter-Casey Bill — the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act. This bill would have priced milk paid to dairy farmers based on the national average cost of production. This bill would not have created an $8 per gallon cost to consumers, and the price would not have been $5.65 per gallon. The price would have been approximately $4.15 per gallon.

It’s time Congress comes to its senses and passes a realistic dairy bill patterned after the Specter-Casey bill. Anything else will only continue chaos on our dairy farms and more slipping in fluid sales.

Arden Tewksbury is manager of the Progressive Agriculture Organization, Meshoppen, Pa.



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