Archive for August, 2009

GOT MILK? Think about it.

14 Aug

This is an expert from an article that hopefully will not be something we see a lot of in the next couple of years.  I would hope that we will see a number of articles talking more about the growth of the family farm.  Remember, this is all up to you, the consumer.  We eat a number of times during the day, week, month and year, and every dollar you spend, no matter how small, will affect change. 

It was not a decision they wanted to make. A fit, vigorous 62-year-old, Borland could have kept working. His son, who is 35 and has two sons of his own, was once interested in taking over. But the dismal prices that dairy farmers are receiving for their milk forced the Borlands to sell. “We’ve gone through hard times and low milk prices before,” said Borland’s wife, Carol, a retired United Methodist minister. “This time there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. There’s no sense working that hard when you’re 62 just to go into debt.”

For several months I’d been reading headlines and following the statistics behind the current nationwide dairy crisis. The math is stark. Prices paid to farmers per hundredweight (about 12 gallons) have fallen from nearly $20 a year ago to less than $11 in June. Earlier this month, the Federal government raised the support price by $1.25, but that is only a drop in the proverbial bucket. It costs a farmer about $18 to produce a hundredweight of milk. In Vermont, where I live, that translates to a loss of $100 per cow per month. So far this year, 33 farms have ceased operation in this one tiny state.

Meanwhile, the price you and I pay for milk in the grocery store has stayed about the same. Someone is clearly pocketing the difference. Perhaps that explains why profits at Dean Foods—the nation’s largest processor and shipper of dairy products, with more than 50 regional brands—have skyrocketed. The company announced earnings of $75.3 million in the first quarter of 2009, more than twice the amount it made during the same quarter last year ($30.8 million). (Dean countered that “current supply and demand is contributing to the low price environment.”)

Read the full article here: