Friday, April 10, 2015

Dairy Markets and Good Neighbors

Several of our neighbors are losing their milk market....just being told, "We don't want your milk any more. There's too much on the market". 

These are good folks, who work hard for our community, provide scholarships to students....Liz won one for college, which helped a lot...and create jobs for dozens of people. The economic contribution to our area made by these farms is immeasurable. Plus they grow a LOT of food. Each farmer in the US feeds 155 folks..... losing these farms will matter

Although many answers to this milk marketing problem spring quickly to mind, the reality of the situation is that most of them won't work.

They can't really sell milk to their neighbors.

It is for the most part illegal and dangerous to sell raw milk. It is possible to jump through a lot of hoops and do it. However, just one sick person or one high count and the farmer is in trouble fast.

It is possible to process, bottle, and sell your own milk. Not easy or cheap to start up and no guarantee of success, but some people manage. 

I can't imagine how they find time to add milk processing and marketing and delivery to their daily work. Dairy farming is by nature all consuming. It demands pretty much everything the farmer can give and then asks for more. Animals and crops demand schedules, but they don't respect them in the least.

Work hard all day getting crops in or getting things cleaned up or fixing machinery? Too bad, that first calf heifer isn't going to wait to have her baby because you are tired. You can just stay up all night and do it all again tomorrow. That top producing cow isn't going to wait until you are rested to go off feed and need you and your vet. An unexpected high count isn't going to wait for a better day to send the milk inspector around to your door, clipboard in hand, and expecting the problem to be fixed yesterday.

There are always unexpected events adding to the farm schedule, which is of necessity already crowded beyond imagining. 

When I was a kid visiting my dairy farming aunt and uncle or playing with neighbor kids who lived on farms I swore I would never have anything to do with dairying. Imagine having to milk twice every day! Every single day. Every Christmas. Thanksgiving. Birthdays. Sick days. Having to milk cows when you have the flu or a broken foot or a concussion from a pipe to the head. (All of which I have done.)

Not this kid. No way, no how....or so I thought. Of course we all know how that turned out.

Anyhow, there are no easy answers for these good, strong, farm families. 

We lost our own milk market...twice...both times were nightmares of hundreds of phone calls, hours of begging, calls to legislators, Farm Bureau, anyone who might somehow give us a hand. Eventually we found places on trucks for our milk, but it wasn't easy or fun.

I hate imagining what our neighbors are going through.

The cows don't stop making milk just because the milk truck isn't picking up any more. They have to be milked without fail. And the bills don't stop either.

I hope they find a market and fast. 


joated said...

I thought all the yogurt and cheese processors that moved into upstate NY were supposed to help alleviate the problem?

joated said...

I KNOW allowing fracking in upstate would help some farmers. Doing something about the taxes on farm land might help too.

Anonymous said...

Your neighbors sound like such wonderful folks doing such a great service! I am sure things will work fast for their good, and pray for sure it does. Most people in the USA do not even KNOW what a farmer goes through. Many folks take their food for granted. WE will know these good folks will be upheld and their helpf come to them fast .--Merry

Terry and Linda said...

Oh I hope so too. Prayers


Cathy said...

Such a moving account of the work and commitment required of dairy farmers. That last picture is pretty touching too.

Uta said...

The Conn. organic market is always low on milk I wonder why that is. God bless the Farmers.

threecollie said...

Joated, that was the theory, although yogurt milk is priced pretty low so a lot of people didn't buy into the hype. There isn't a lot of good in a market if you have to sell at a loss and dairy margins are tight even with higher classes of milk

Joated, both huge issues! Fracking brings a lot of good to rural economies And taxes are deadly! They were a very large factor in putting us out of business.

Merry, they are. I really hope this turns out well for them. Thanks for holding good thoughts

Linda, thanks

Cathy, thanks, that is my aunt and uncle's barn....they sold the farm last fall....lots of memories there for sure

Uta, thanks. I am always nervous about the organic market. One month they are doing all they can to bring in more milk and the next they are shutting farmers down without warning. It is really expensive to go organic and to maintain the standards. If you have to then sell your milk into the conventional market it really hurts because you are paying the higher input costs and getting a lower pay price. Poor souls.