Membership participation in Cooperatives Working Together, the farmer-funding program to improve dairy farmer economics, has reached 74 percent of the nation’s milk supply, officials at CWT announced on Monday.

That is the highest participation level in the two-year history of the self-help program, which began in 2003.  Membership applications have continued to arrive since CWT began its third year of operations in July.

“We now have nearly 50 dairy cooperatives of all sizes, as well as more than 300 individual farmers, paying the nickel per hundredweight membership fee into CWT,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF, which administers Cooperatives Working Together.  “The more money we are able to collect, the bigger impact we can have in the marketplace, and the more we can do for our members. We’d like every cooperative that is not a CWT member to consider investing in this program, and the same goes for independent farmers as well,” he said. Membership information is available by calling (888) 463-6298.

Friday deadline to submit bid
In related news, CWT also reminds members that Friday is the deadline for submitting bids for its third annual herd retirement program. All bids must be postmarked by September 16th in order to be considered. 

Bid information can be found online at www.cwt.coop/action/action_herd2005.html

Once all eligible bids have been submitted, CWT will begin the process of identifying which will be accepted.

Through the herd retirement program, CWT will pay farmers to retire their milking herds, in an effort to remove future production from the nation’s milk supply. The goal for this year’s program is to remove up to 70,000 cows, a figure more than double the number retired in 2003, and 20,000 higher than last year’s program.

Since CWT started operations in July 2003, farm-level milk prices have been consistently above historic averages.  In the past two years, CWT has removed approximately 1.7 billion pounds of milk through a combination of two herd retirement programs, periodic exports of cheese, and a reduced milk production program.

Earlier this summer, CWT’s committee decided that the program’s activities will remain focused on both reducing cow numbers, and boosting exports of manufactured dairy products. 

Cooperatives Working Together is being funded by dairy cooperatives and individual dairy farmers, who are contributing 5 cents per hundredweight assessment on their milk production through December 2006. The money raised by CWT’s investment is being apportioned among several supply reduction programs to improve the national all milk price. For more on CWT’s activities, visit www.cwt.coop.

Cooperatives Working Together