Dairy farmers launch final push for farm bill
Missouri's dairy farmers are making a final push to get a new five-year farm bill, including the Dairy Security Act, passed by Congress before Dec. 31.
"We can't wait," says Larry Purdom, Missouri Dairy Association president and a dairy farmer from Purdy, Mo. "Just this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the cost of milk produced in October to be $20.56 per hundredweight, surpassing $20 for the first time ever.
"All this talk about a 'financial cliff' for the country is old hat for dairy farmers. We have been over our own financial cliff so many times the last three years, that we can't wait for Congress to act now. Dairy farmers suffered a horrible 2009 for dairy farm prices, then saw some improvement last year, but now the price of milk is on a downswing.
"Dairy farmers have pulled in their belt, tried to live within our means, and we think Congress should do the same," says Purdom. "Dairy farmers have committed their share to the cost savings to the Federal Government by getting consensus for the Dairy Security Act. We were the first commodity to get together and reach consensus on our future direction.
"Dairy's one safety net, the Milk Income Loss Contract program expired Sept. 30," says Purdom. "The MILC program provided some relief during these hills and valleys in dairy farm prices. We have no assistance going into a winter short on feed because of the drought.
"The worse drought since 1988, in two-thirds of the country this summer, has caused a dramatic rise in feed prices which have been a double whammy to dairy farmers.
"Feed is half of our production cost and milk prices are not even covering our feed bill."
"These poor economics have caused heavy liquidation of dairy herds and many dairies closing their doors across the country," says Purdom. "When the cows are gone, they are gone and not coming back to the farm.
"We need a new farm bill now, with the Dairy Security Act, to get some immediate relief assistance for the drought, and to set the course for future farm policy for the next five years," says Purdom.