It was -10 below this morning. For the third week in March, that is cold.
But last night’s news was even colder.
A talk show hosting a panel of local farmers discussed the low prices dairies are getting for 100 pounds of milk, or roughly 11.5 gallons.
Dairy farmers are getting paid today what their fathers or grandfathers were paid 40 years ago. Milk prices have fallen and stayed down for a few years now. Normally, there are the cyclic up and down years. The good years pay for the bad years.
But lately there have been no good years. We are losing family run dairy farms!
Forty years ago, a wage of $2 per hour would have been normal, and if you got $5 per hour, you hit it big time.
It was a better time for farms. The milk price was up and costs were in line with what a farm was paid.
But today the ends cannot be met.
Like cars, tractors now have a mortgage payment plan now attached to them, and the fuel to run them is expensive. Taxes, labor costs, fuel, clothing, grain, lubricants, and farm equipment have all gone sky high, while income has decreased.
Environmental concerns also cost dollars, but come in last when ranked with other farm priorities.
The small family farm will die unless there is a change in both state and federal policies.
So what can we do?
Write letters to our local, state and federal government elected officials.
If you can’t write, call.
Voice your concern, and demand a new dairy policy that works and supports our dairy farmers.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: 518-474-8390
Sen. Charles Schumer: 202- 224-6542
Rep. Elise Stefanik: 202-225-4611
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: 202-224-4451
State Sen. Betty Little: 518-743-0968
Assemblyman Billy Jones: 518-562-1986
Request that they promote and correct the dairy pricing system so our farmers have a better quality of life. No one should lose a farm that has been in their family for eons because of an outdated and dysfunctional pricing system.
Fix the problem before the farms are just memories.
And secondly: Drink more milk.
Part of the milk pricing system is supply and demand. Demand is down because people are drinking cokes and other soft drinks along with all the vitamin water, flavored water, colored water and just plain old bottled water water.
If a multinational company can afford to buy a half minute of advertising during the Super Bowl for millions of dollars, they are not hurting. Dairy promotion can’t afford that kind of time slot or cost, and should not need too.
It’s time to be a wise consumer and support the dairy industry even more than normal. Instead of buying a bottle of water or pop to ease your thirst, try some milk. Milk is hydration power food. It’s loaded with calcium and protein to replenish your body and if you buy chocolate milk, you get a flavored energy boost. Top exercise trainers are now encouraging the use of chocolate milk, replacing the commercialized sports drinks.
So replace those empty calorie, sugar-laden, do-nothing-for-you, weight-gaining, diabetes-causing soft drinks, and power up with whole milk — the original power drink.
Put your money to work for the local dairy farmer. Drink milk, buy some ice cream, have a cheese sandwich or macaroni and cheese for lunch. With the morning cereal, have some yogurt and toast with real butter and feel good about what you are doing to your body and for the local dairy farmers.
We are all in this together. The earth supplies us food and housing. Farmers grow food, and forests supply us with wood to build. We need both to be economically sound for the owners.
If we as a society don’t act on both the political and consumer front lines, the only thing left in the wooden dairy barn will be cobwebs.