‘If they are going to dillydally… I am ready for $38 milk’

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The lame duck session of Congress has officially begun, and the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee is still waiting to hear what’s next with the Farm Bill.

“I am still hopeful that (House leaders) want to get this off their plate by the end of the year,” U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) told AgriTalk radio on Thursday.

“If they are going to dillydally around and not get this thing done, I am ready for permanent law and I am ready for $38 milk (on) Jan. 1,” he added.

If a new Farm Bill isn’t passed by Jan. 1, permanent law dating back to the 1940s takes effect. That, in turn, would deliver parity and raise dairy price supports to $38 per hundredweight or more.

At one point in the interview, Peterson commented that if dairy farmers, especially the ones in California, get three to four months of $38 milk, it might save them from the financial difficulties they have been experiencing this year. 

Peterson wants the full House to vote on a new Farm Bill. He is adamantly against extending the current Farm Bill.

One of the reasons against extending the current bill, he says, is that dairy farmers need to have the Dairy Security Act enacted as soon as possible.  

Current dairy policy doesn’t work, he said. “We have dairy farmers in significant trouble, especially in the West. And we can’t afford to wait another year. We’re going to lose too many dairy farmers if we wait another year without getting this Dairy Security Act in place.”

Provisions of the Dairy Security Act were included in versions of the Farm Bill passed earlier this year by the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committee. Those provisions include margin protection insurance to help protect dairy producers from unfavorable swings in feed prices relative to milk prices,

To listen to more of Peterson’s interview with AgriTalk, click on the audio bar at the top of this article.

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David Bell    
Mi  |  November, 16, 2012 at 08:23 AM

Thats what i have been talking about , when you figure the financial investment,risk and hours worked 38$ is reasonable starting point. My friends across the river in Canada get 38$ plus every year.

Jackie Schmidts    
Lake Placid, NY  |  November, 16, 2012 at 04:00 PM

And that is why their dairy production industry is shrinking, evaporating, can't be part of the world market place, can't bring in new blood and will someday completly implode.

Buffalo,N.Y.  |  November, 16, 2012 at 09:11 AM

Why would we want a farm bill that depresses the price of milk. This is what has been going on for years and NMPF is in on it. If we don't get $38 or higher for milk we are fools for letting the "system" continue as it is.The market has been controlled for years so everyone else profits but the dairy farmer, its time for a change!

Texas  |  November, 16, 2012 at 10:22 AM

I absolutely agree with U.S Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN) that we need the $38.00/cwt for a few months to make up for our losses in the past 3 years. Processors (in the form of cheap milk) and coop managers (in the form of high and stable salaries) have benefitted from low milk prices for the past few years. I know the management in my Coops (DFA and Darigold) also have benefited from high salaries while producer equities have been diminished to almost nothing, hence a little bit of parity would helps us make up for lost of time. As a progressive (yeah a proud D-democrat here), I congratulate Representative Peterson for standing up for dairy farmers. Let the Farm Bill expire!!!!

north east  |  November, 16, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Here is a question that needs to be answered. What percent of dairy farms will participate in the DSA and what percent of production does that include? As far as I know there has never been a vote by dairy farmers to show what percent even supports the DSA. $38 milk sounds good to me.

MN  |  November, 16, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Our milk processor has already stated that they do not think anyone will sell the milk to the govt. for the $38 for fear of loosing their regular customers that they supply product for, so once again the farmer is left out of an opportunity to makeup for past losses.

Jackie Schmidts    
Lake Placid, NY  |  November, 16, 2012 at 04:11 PM

What a bunch of bull! Peterson needs to get a new job. If he is willing to explode the entire dairy industry in this country and not find a good compromise, he is not fit to serve. His remarks are completly irresponsible. He is not a leader an should be removed from the Ag. Committee! What this article doesn't mention is that if a producer wants margin insurance in the new Farm Bill they will be forced to participate in the newly conceived market stabilization program, a.k.a. SUPPLY MANAGEMENT! First, many smart good businessmen producers won't be snookered into this plan, so it won't work to start with. But those that do participate will find themselves at the mercy of this another governemnt interventionist program penalizing them financially and a system that further distorts the price of milk, both for farmers and eventually consumers. $38 milk will kill the dairy industry, even for one month! Extend the current farm bill, debate to find better solutions, possibly going to open markets, supply and demand, no federal or state orders? Try that on for size, then maybe you can negotiate the price you dairy farmers think you should receive for your raw milk!

pa  |  November, 16, 2012 at 05:28 PM

At $38 farm gate price you'd better be prepared to see the dairy case sit full because consumers aren't going to pay those kind of prices. Definitely one of those "good idea, bad idea" deals, and anyone, including Rep. Peterson, who thinks Congress isn't just going to punt and renew the current Bill then deal with it later is a bit naive. The politicians could care less about the actual ag end of the Farm Bill, it's how to deal with the costs of all the welfare nonsense that is the issue!

Aaron Schiferl    
Hewitt, WI  |  November, 16, 2012 at 05:35 PM

they have had time to debate how is ones dairy industry of keep it local supposed to survive $12\cwt milk or $0.83\gallon of milk sold to us paying $4.00\per gallon of fuel to make the feed to feed the cows.....

Henry Parsons    
MA  |  November, 17, 2012 at 02:05 AM

Jackie, I know the Farm Bill sucks in the eyes of some, particularly those with an expansion mentality to produce more than their share, and to hell with everybody else. Wouldn't you give up 5% of your production to get back 30% of your price. Sounds good to me, but the part I don't like is that even if we get back the 30%, the price will still be the same old, same old price that still does not cover our costs. The large herd mentality that pervades our industry will always keep the price below what is needed to keep our smaller herds on the land. Gov't stats show COP of $44 for 50 cow herds, $34 for !00 cow herds, $22 for 500 cow herds, and $18 for 1000 cow herds. So....what price is the Farm Bill going to insure, because our farm cannot continue with $20 milk that some once thought was so great.

Susie Nash    
HARFORD Co MD  |  November, 17, 2012 at 06:38 AM

You are all way off base. Our co-op leaders signed away our milk to the large food chains for the cheapest price possible. This happened years ago and and we are all screwed. They get kickback and payoffs for giving our milk away. Everyone READ Delmarva Farmer Creaming the co-op article 11-6-12 or go to the New York Times 10-28-12 and read the article by Andrew Martin. I don`t know if you will be more shocked or more pi----d off.

Wisconsin  |  November, 17, 2012 at 10:59 AM

I don't know who wants the supply management part of the farm bill more,.. The government or the farmer. My guess would be the government. They already got us by the gnodes on healthcare and estate taxes why not get between the cows as well? People cast their vote in the hope that their own best interests are served. Obviously eating is not a priority.

WI  |  November, 19, 2012 at 04:49 PM

Something no one mentions is that the sad truth here is that corn and beans do not have to reduce production to get full coverage courtesy of the Vilsak,secretary of corn. Even gov. reports show that consumers see no benefit at the pumps but will take the hit in the grocery store but heh, Only animal ag is suffering with high corn prices from ethanol, so why turn down the request for a waver? Back to this subject: The idea that you can give up 5% for a 30% increase in price is extremely naive. Bear in mind that something like 20% of farm produce 60%? of the milk and they are already protecting prices through other means, so they are unlikely to join in. This is not like corn. You cannot just turn the spigot off and on. Have you considered the realities? If only half are involved and the rest are making small profits, you will need to reduce twice as much to get the same results. What will you do to reduce milk by 5%? Sell cows? Compromise their feed? Dry off early? Better check with your banker to see which one they will accept. What will you do when they say produce more if you have already done one of these things? Do you know that the program would have you reducing supply back to June because the margin over feed cost wasn't high enough even then? So if you produce your own feed and are doing fine they will still ask you to reduce output because some data says the average cost is out of whack. "Average" does not work in this industry with so many combinations of feeding cows. Pencil this out month to month ie show a cutback of 5% on you income, payment for part of that a month later, the cost of feeding cows that are not milking, etc. My bet is that you will run from this like crazy or be out of business in a year.

newengland  |  November, 20, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Linda is right on target with her comments

midsouth  |  November, 20, 2012 at 03:33 PM

I say we need more mega dairies that employ illegals so they can milk more cows. This way also we can further reduce the price of milk, because, you know, too many cows on too many big dairies doesn't lend to lower prices, no way, no how....

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