Milk prices deserve floor
By ARDEN TEWKSBURY
For the Capital Press
Several national and multistate organizations have sent a letter to all members of Congress urging them to place a floor price of $20 per hundredweight under all milk used for manufacturing dairy products.
The $20 price will be temporary until a permanent dairy bill is written that will give dairy farmers the real price they deserve.
The National Family Farm Coalition, the National Farmers Union, the National Dairy Producers Organization and the food and water organizations are some of the national organizations that are spearheading the efforts to achieve the $20 price. The National Farmers Organization supports the $20 price, but they feel we need a supply management program to go with the $20 price.
I wholeheartedly agree with NFO, and the milk supply management program in S1640, the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2011. However, for the present time let's go for the $20 floor price.
Several multistate organizations like Pro-Ag, Family Farm Defenders, several local granges in Pennsylvania and many others have signed onto the letter.
In my opinion we can't sit around and watch prices paid to dairymen drop anywhere near the level of 2009. Remember, the average price paid to dairy farmers in Federal Order No. 1 was $13.01 per hundredweight in 2009.
According to USDA figures the all-milk price in 2009 was $12.80 per hundredweight and the average cost of producing milk in 2009 was $22.28 per hundredweight.
When you subtract the all-milk price of $12.80 from the average cost of production, then the figures are very clear. The loss to the average dairy farm was $9.40 per hundredweight. The USDA figures indicate the total amount of milk produced and marketed in 2009 was 189.3 billion pounds which illustrated a total loss to dairy farmers of $17.8 billion.
These are astronomical losses. I hope all dairy farmers and organizations will support the efforts of all these fine organizations that want to prevent the losses that dairy farmers will be experiencing in 2012.
To further illustrate the potential losses to the American dairy farmer; the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's latest estimates for the future prices for cheese are: February, $16.10 per hundredweight; March, $15.54; and April, $15.70.
Of course, these figures are subject to change. However, there certainly is the possibility of the all-milk price going under $16 per hundredweight.
Everyone should join in and help to prevent the bloodbath that is on its way.
Arden Tewksbury represents the Progressive Agriculture Organization in Meshoppen, Pa.