Friday, December 04, 2015
Saving Family Farms
Some NY dairy farmers got a reprieve from losing their milk market this week. So many others have gone through that awful wringer in the past few months.
When I read the article it came as small surprise to find that the National Farmers Organization, or NFO, came through for them.
You see we faced this situation a few years back and it was truly awful.
Cows must be milked, at least twice every day. They must be fed and watered, receive veterinary care. Most have a nutritionist who visits and expects his due. The electric bill for the barns must be payed, and on a dairy it is often a whopper. I saw bills up to a thousand a month when we had a full barn and a cold year. Tractors need fuel, insurance fees loom large. Taxes must be paid and they are not gentle on land owners.
When you lose your market, the milk goes down the drain, or if you are lucky you can give it away, and the check that offsets these liabilities is gone.
There are very few people who can afford to feed dozens, if not hundreds, of large, hungry animals and provide for all their other needs, as if they were pets. The sale barn and the end of life as you knew it looms large and stops sleep.
When it happened to us because our cooperative quit the company that had a contract with the small trucker who could access our challenging driveway, we spent weeks in a flurry of phone calls to legislators and everyone else we could find to no avail.
And in fear. We were terrified. Those cows were like family to us, farming was all we knew, and we couldn't see a way out of it.
In the end, John Dabs, who owned the trucking company that picked up our milk, sent Ken Woodruff, who inspected for NY's NFO, to check us out. He looked over our barns, sat at our kitchen table talking and offering confident comfort, and signed us up...we have lost track of Ken, and I am sorry for it. He was good to us.
We stayed with NFO until we sold out. There were times they didn't pay as much as other coops and processors. There were times they charged more for this or that. There were times we got aggravated, as farmers, who are pretty helpless about what they are paid and what they pay out, sometimes do.
However, through it all, three times a month that milk check came and Ken was as reasonable a milk inspector to work with as I have ever met. Some processors, who are less scrupulous, leave farmers dangling for their last check when they sell out. Not NFO...we got every check.
I was and still am grateful to National Farmers for saving our farm ......at least for a while,.....and comforted to see that they are still doing it. It is good that someone still looks out for farmers instead of viewing them as cattle to be milked for all they are worth and then dumped.
Here is our story.....