Family farms in crisis: Price controls, mega-plants, other problems “to get worse” | News, Sports, Jobs

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY / Sun-Gazette LaVerne Hoover takes cow milkers on a carosel at the Troester Dairy Farm in Mifflinburg on Friday. The farm is owned and operated by Barb, LeRoy and LeRoy Jr. Troester.

Family farms, especially those in the dairy sector, are currently experiencing a crisis and it is not their fault.

Between inequitable government-controlled prices, rising equipment costs, and the growing spread of mega-facilities, the number of dairy farms has declined dramatically over the past 60 years, from over a million to less than 32. 000 today.

“The factory’s agricultural model doesn’t care about people” said Brenda Cochran, who, along with her husband, operates a dairy farm in Westfield. “He doesn’t care about homeowners who give themselves too much credit because they just want to keep farming… they’re very mechanistic. It’s almost like they’ve lost their heads, their hearts and I don’t mean they’ve lost their soul – it’s not for me to judge, but there are a lot of hard people pushing the mega-industrialized food production system. “

Cochran made his statements at an event at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church focused on the plight of farmers. Walter Barner of Tioga County and Beth Troester of Union County were also scheduled to speak. Area resident Carol Sides also spoke about her childhood with family members who were farmers.

Farmers’ lack of control over the pricing of their produce was addressed in a statement by Troester, which was read at the meeting.

“The government and the cooperatives control the price”, Troester wrote. “The average cost of production is not taken into account in the pricing of milk. The dairy farmer has no say.

“If we need ordered parts, we pay the shipping cost, and if we have to ship anything, we also pay the shipping cost. To have our milk collected on the farm, we pay for transportation as well as advertising, marketing and cooperative costs. … The costs of repairs, utilities, food, supplies, taxes and machine replacements keep increasing every year.

Troester noted that the average cost in this country to produce farm milk is at least $ 22 per hundredweight, or 100 pounds of milk. The price she and her husband received in September for their milk was $ 16.99 per cwt.

Farmers are paid by the quintal. There are 11.63 gallons in 100 pounds of milk.

According to Cochran, during last year’s pandemic, milk prices fell to $ 9 per cwt, which is why there have been reports of farmers throwing away milk rather than paying the costs associated with shipping it.

Cochran, who is president of Farm Women United, detailed actions the federal government has taken over the past 50 years that have affected farmers, starting with a report released in 1962 that actively tried to discourage people from farming. .

“We got our hands on what is called the CED (Economic Development Committee) report which was written by more than 100 CEOs of companies saying that we had a bad distribution of the workforce and that we had to remove these people from the farms ”, said Cochran. “One of the examples is that they were going to define the FFA programs. They were going to get people to go to college X number of miles from the farms. “

Emphasizing that the problem is politics but not partisan, as policies have been passed under the Republican and Democratic administrations over the years, Cochran said, “Everyone should be okay with the issues. They may have different ideas on how to solve them, but no one would agree that there is a problem.

“Things have really changed for family dairy farmers since the government decided that we were replaceable and the situation continues to change and not for the better”, Troester wrote. “Many dairy farmers have gone bankrupt. Very few young dairy farmers can stay in dairy farming. Dairy farmers have long suffered and struggled with low milk prices, which are always lower than the average cost of production.

Troester and her husband, LeRoy, who is 75, milk about 750 cows on their farm with their son LeRoy Jr.

“The supply chain is currently in crisis with food, supplies and parts, gas, fuel and so on. Things will get worse for everyone if something is not done, and soon, to keep our local dairy farmers on the ground. We need a fair milk price if we are to survive ”, she declared.

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