the politics of food forum: Fair Milk Prices

 
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Nebraskagal
Jul 6, 2010 4:24 PM CST
Editorial in today's paper - thoughts?

http://journalstar.com/news/opinion/editorial/article_05a9ca...
ImageKathleen
Jul 7, 2010 5:28 AM CST
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY
What you hear around here after reading that are deep sighs and "So what's new?"

Milk pricing has more to do with processors than producers and more to do with cheap food than fair prices and it has been this way since we started farming in 1972. This whole bruhaha is interesting, but I really doubt anything will change. There is way too much money in political donations from Dean and DFA.

We sell our milk to MeadowBrook, what was a small processor in Erie that was bought out by Dean several years ago. We went independent when our coop started charging us more to pick up our milk than they did the big farms because it was less efficient to be dealing with little farms like ours. Stan was a director at the time and he put up a fuss, but got nowhere.

I think the thing that is most frustrating is that even people who are ready to quit (and Stan isn't) can't because they can't afford to sell out.
mermaid
Jul 11, 2010 8:31 PM CST
There is another piece to this that is not mentioned in the article - the monopolistic food processor's roles in pushing the government regulators to harass small independant producers and buying clubs.

Many consumers want to purchase their food directly from a farm that produces the food to their preferences, such as dairy products from cows that are pastured and not fed corn or soy. There are many small farms that produce this way and are willing to sell directly to the consumers. The consumers are willing to pay a fair price to the farmer for these products.

The government raids have stepped up dramatically since 2006. The raw milk producers get the brunt of the harassment, but they are not the only ones. Several small farms that sell pasturized (but not homogenized) milk are also being harassed.

Many invested a lot of capital into their own bottling facilities that were initially approved by their local ag departments/inspectors/regulators.
Now the regulators are coming back and saying "oops, we made a mistake" and insist on additional expensive changes in an effort to drive the independent producers out of business.

Today's paper had an article on yet another way the government is trying to crush small producers. There is a young man with a one acre organic farm that produces tomatoes and row crops. His mother and father are his primary helpers in the harvesting and farm chores. His sister, niece and nephew pitch in with the farm chores from time to time and he supplies them with vegetables in exchange. The state Division of Labour Standards Enforcement fined this young farmer $1,050 last month, claiming that siblings and their children do not qualify as "immediate family" and he is therefore required to pay employment taxes, workers compensation premiums and maintain employment documentation on them. I sincerely hope he wins his appeal.

There are many CSAs that had a policy whereby someone who couldn't afford the share price for a box of produce could donate a few hours of their labour in exchange for their share. Depending on the persons ability, that labour might be helping with the harvest, cleaning/prepping the produce, packing the share boxes, working on the weekly newsletter etc.

I know a couple of seniors who had the task of inserting the weekly newletter into the share box and organzing the drop point paperwork each week in exchange for their box of veg. It really helped them stretch their social security and stay healthy too. Well guess what? The government has decided that this is not allowed.
porkpal
Jul 11, 2010 9:35 PM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
I would like to know who, exactly, is behind this governmental absurdity.
Porkpal
mermaid
Jul 12, 2010 1:31 PM CST
Which government absurdity porkpal? The absurd method of commodity milk pricing? the harassment of small independent producers? or the recent changes/issues with farm labour regulations?
ImageKathleen
Jul 12, 2010 2:17 PM CST
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY
It was recently stated that only 4 people understand milk pricing and 3 of them are dead. No one knows who the 4th is.
mermaid
Jul 12, 2010 7:28 PM CST
LOL! The first three probably died of brain infarcts trying to understand the pricing scheme.

All the more reason to replace the system with something that makes sense for the current local and world conditions.
ImageAnnaZ
Jun 22, 2011 10:13 PM CST
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
Was wandering around the farm cubit and saw this...............I have a solution.............

Let 'em go hungry for awhile. Or they can feast on stuff from overseas that has been in transit till it isn't "fresh" or maybe infested with something. Alot of somethings.

There was a bumper sticker that Farm Credit Association had quite a few years ago............it read....."Don't cuss the farmers with your mouth full".

People ***h about the farm subsidies............well, people, us farmers wouldn't NEED subsidies if we got a fair price for what we sell. I'd like to get some of those big honkin' politicians out here on the farm and see how long they'd last really WORKING!!! I'd have 'em in the ground by 9..........A.M.

Inputs for crops are horrendous............I'm so glad we got out last fall. Neighbor is cash renting our cropland. We're feeding some of his heifers, 60 or so right now. Feeding them our feed, as we had over a year's worth so we have to get rid of it somehow. And those so-and-so's that are thinking that the farmers are getting rich with $7.00 corn and God only knows how much beans are now (I haven't heard..........), well, all things are relative. Seed corn was outrageous, alfalfa seed always HAS been, and bean seed follows right along. Fertilizer............well, that follows the petrolum prices, and we all know those haven't gone down any.

I better get off my soapbox before I either fall down and hurt myself, or I say something I shouldn't and get put in the naughty chair.
mermaid
Jul 8, 2011 5:10 PM CST
Not sure if this would have helped your situation Anna_Z but I can tell you that our here in my part of California there has been a huge surge in folks wanting to buy directly from the producers (versus buying from the supermarkets). Our farmers markets are packed and most of the CSAs and buying clubs are sold out.

The dairy battle is heating up again. The CDFA overstepped their charter and went after four small dairy farms in the past couple of weeks and consumer outrage is building. We know that the large processors are funding the current persecution against the small producers. We're pushing for senate hearings over the CDFA's unlawful actions and calling for an end to the processor monopolies.

It will be a lot of political hot air for awhile. We hope to see some progress made at the end of it.

I haven't had time to keep up with my usual web forums in the past year due to work and studies but this topic has brought me out of my cave. We can't afford to lose any more of our small farms.

ImageAnnaZ
Jul 8, 2011 5:59 PM CST
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
Mermaid, what is your feeling on the raw milk deal??? Of people that want to buy directly from the farmer because they feel that the health benefits of raw milk outweigh the possible health problems?
Imagegardengus
Jul 8, 2011 8:13 PM CST
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5a
Truth is worth finding
Around here we can buy raw milk at the farmers market they just call it pet food.Don't know how long that will last but I do not like Not to have a choice .(Informed of course)
ImageAnnaZ
Jul 8, 2011 8:49 PM CST
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
Well, I kinda feel like that too. *Usually* those that want to purchase raw milk would probably not have problems, IMHO. The biggest problem with this is that 99% of the population cannot handle any type of germs anymore and get sick at the drop of a hat. Because we and our kids have had raw milk since day one, any variation isn't an issue with our health. Here in Wisconsin it's become quite an issue..........most EVERYONE is saying bad, bad, bad. I'm apathetic, I don't care anymore. I hate the taste of boughten milk. It has been cooked and God knows what all and I don't even consider it milk anymore. Pasturized, homogonized, killed, whatever............Ok, I suppose someone is gonna crucify me for those comments, but that's the way I feel about it. Confused
porkpal
Jul 8, 2011 10:24 PM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
I agree about the ruined taste of boughten milk. (I also love the word "boughten"!)
Porkpal
Imagegardengus
Jul 9, 2011 5:05 AM CST
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5a
Truth is worth finding
My Mother 80+ now has never been able to drink ''store'' milk. She stopped drinking milk when she left the farm as a young woman. She even refers to store milk as ''white stuff''.
mermaid
Jul 10, 2011 4:01 PM CST
Anna_Z, I think farmers have the right to sell their products directly to consumers if they are so inclined, and consumers have the right to buy directly from the farmer if they want to do so.

I also think we need to come up with a standard of identity for milk produced for the market that consumes it raw versus the raw milk produced specifically for the processor. Those two products can be, and usually are, very different.

I buy raw milk, bottled for consumption as raw milk, from the same dairy that my grandmother liked. This dairy has been around since the 1920's and has always sold the milk raw. There has never been an illness associated with this dairy, even for people new to raw dairy. I can drink their milk easily, feel very nourished, and have never have an adverse reaction to it.

By contrast, if I drink the conventional supermarket milk, I have trouble breathing with 30 minutes of consuming it.
There is also a huge taste difference. The smell of the conventional milk available in my area makes me want to gag.

My immune system is very strong. It's been many years since I've had any type of infectious illness, or any illness at all other than reactions to chemicals in places where they don't belong.

I do realize that there are a number of dairies selling to processors that produce a quality milk that can be safely consumed raw. Unfortunately there are also dairies that cut corners and produce a contaminated product that is unsafe for raw consumption.
Those farmers themselves wouldn't drink their own milk raw. Many would refer to that white fluid as a biohazard.

The processors are pooling the "healthy milk" with the "biohazard" milk when they process it. If someone is reactive to a drug used on the milking herd at one farm, the pooled milk becomes problem. If someone consumed the wrong type of milk in its raw state, they very likely would get sick.

The CDC lumps all reported illnesses from raw milk into the same bucket, regardless of whether the illness was from PMO milk intended for pasteurization or from milk produced specifically for the raw dairy market.

In 2008, my mom got campylobacter from conventional *pasteurized* milk. Processing alone is no guarantee.

Part of the controversy is what is the definition of "raw milk"? That phrase means different things to different people.

There also seems to be a discrepancy on the subject of what constitutes a healthy cow (or a healthy person!). Is health merely an absence of a named disease or is it something more? For the "farm fresh" or raw milk market, consumers seem to be looking for unprocessed milk from healthy cows that are on quality pasture during their geographical regions growing season and related feeds during the season when pasture is not available. A lot of room for variation and debate there. LOL!

In this area there is strong consumer demand for pastured dairy, meats and eggs that are corn and soy free (diet of the animal is corn and soy free). It can really be challenging to meet this demand. The only (known) feed mill left in California stopped producing the corn and soy free feed mixes. The mill says it's not worth their time to make the blends requested by the smaller dairies since the bulk of their business is with the mega-dairies.

I have a friend in the Central Valley who is a cheesemaker with a very loyal customer base. . She has a small herd of Jersey cows on irrigated pasture. My friend is now buying barley etc directly from multiple local small farms to make her own soy and corn free supplemental feed mixes.

I have a number of friends who have retired from the conventional dairy industry. In some cases they just wanted to retire, in other cases they retired from dairying to cut their losses due to the ridiculous and unsustainable prices they were getting.
Some have retained a couple of cows for the families use. Some are looking into establishing a small cow share or herd share operation. Those that are buying "store milk" are only willing to buy organic milk or are buying the raw milk. I asked about this once and was told "I know what some of my neighbour's dairy operations are like. I'd never drink their milk".

We have hundreds of cow/goat/herd shares operating in California currently. They allow small producers to supply the market and make a reasonable living at it. The CDFA recently issued cease and desist orders to two of them even though they are private contracts outside the purview of the CDFA. The political battle is heating up again. Every time this happens the market for quality raw milk grows.

Do you read David Gumpert's blog "The Complete Patient"? He's a journalist that has been reporting on raw milk and foods rights issues for several years. Here is a link in case you are unfamiliar. I encourage you to read the comments that follow his posts. A lot interesting discussion happens there.
http://www.thecompletepatient.com/










ImageAnnaZ
Jul 10, 2011 6:04 PM CST
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
May I make a comment here..........I find that the green background is EXTREMELY difficult to read against. Can we go back to white?
porkpal
Jul 10, 2011 8:06 PM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Mine isn't green...(?)
Porkpal
ImageAnnaZ
Jul 10, 2011 8:29 PM CST
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
This one is..............but one of the others I go to is white. Any ideas on what to do?
mermaid
Jul 10, 2011 9:30 PM CST
Is it the message/posting area that is showing green on your screen or just the border with the navigation links?

Mine screen shows the comment posting areas in white. I don't see any way to adjust the colours.
ImageAnnaZ
Jul 10, 2011 9:46 PM CST
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
Whole screen, except for the text box where I am typing my reply.

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