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Let’s give the states more authority to price milk

At a time when many dairy farmers claim they are facing the worst crisis of their farming careers, one would think federal officials would be exploring all possibilities to help alleviate the dairymen’s plight. However, there doesn’t appear to be anything constructive being proposed in Washington, D.C. by elected or appointed officials.

At the same time, several states are scrambling in an attempt to aid the dairymen. Unfortunately, most of the states don’t have the authority to establish long-term pricing solutions for the dairy farmers, but at least they are trying.

The feds had a great opportunity to do something about the pricing situation under “Order Reform.” However, in my opinion, “Order Reform” was a “Processor’s Dream” and is currently turning into a nightmare for area dairy farmers. So, isn’t it time we sit down and develop another way to establish the value of raw milk? In Federal Milk Marketing Order #1 (Northeast), there are three classes of manufactured milk (yes, three).

For July 2006, these three classes averaged $10.65 per cwt. That’s right -- $10.65. Now is any sane person going to tell me this is a fair price for our dairy farmers?

Conditions are so bad in New England that some state legislators are taking action. Vermont has appropriated over $7million of taxpayer money to help dairy farmers with their plight. Other states are contemplating doing the same. All of this is going on because the USDA did not develop a realistic pricing formula when they came up with their brilliant “Order Reform!”

And to make it worse, it appears that the majority of the members of the U.S. Congress are unwilling (or lack the guts) to take corrective measures.

Now, Governor Rendell wants the PMMB to examine the possibility of pricing milk that leaves the state but re-enters Pennsylvania in fluid containers.

It’s time and past time for the U.S. Congress to intervene and not with taxpayer money!

The majority of the Northeast Congressional Delegation knows that something must be done and, in most cases, are willing to do something. Even Bob Casey, a candidate of the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania, is supporting a new pricing formula for dairy farmers. Let’s sit down and develop a new pricing formula bringing in the average cost of producing milk as a starting point.

If the members of Congress are not willing to take corrective action, then they should give the states the authority to join together to price milk.

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