Some like Edge are being forced out of the dairy business. For others, the hard times are focusing new attention on strategies that go beyond just milking cows in big barns, such as making cheeses or switching to goats or sheep. And some farmers, pointing to a quota system of production in Canada that keeps milk prices more stable there, say new policies might be the answer. “This is probably the biggest challenge dairy farmers have faced in their lifetime,” says Darin Von Ruden, a dairy farmer and president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.Overproduction worldwide has yielded a glut of milk, driving prices below what farmers say it costs them to produce it, for months at a time. Farmers are used to fluctuations in milk prices, but previous downturns have usually lasted only a year or 18 months.
After widespread outrage in the news and on social media, the USDA has responded to reports that SNAP will not be available to use at many farmers markets. use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets has been increasing more and more each year. But the system used to actually process the payments is supported by a middleman between the USDA and the markets. Until recently, that middleman was the Famers Market Coalition, but the USDA recently awarded the contract to a new middleman. That middleman is a brand new and totally unknown company called Financial Transaction Management, LLC, and it told the biggest processing companies that their technology will not be supported in the future. This means that those processing companies can no longer afford to offer their technology. Even more convoluted: FTM has yet to announce a replacement for those processing companies. Therefore, starting July 31st, those who receive SNAP benefits will no longer have a way to purchase healthy food or support local farmers throughout most of the country.
The House on Wednesday passed by voice vote a motion to proceed to conference on the farm bill, which is numbered HR 2 and titled the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The House also passed a Democratic motion to instruct conferees to insist on 10-year permanent funding for an animal vaccine program. The House bill has permanent funding, but the Senate bill has only an authorization for appropriations.That recorded vote was 392 to 20.House leadership also named House conferees on the farm bill Wednesday afternoon. The Senate must now also proceed to conference and appoint conferees. The Republican list consists of 29 members and seems to reflect the fact that 2018 is an election year and that Ryan has made nutrition programs a priority in the bill. In a statement accompanying the list, Ryan ignored the agricultural sections of the bill and emphasized the bill as a piece of social legislation. "We see this farm bill as pivotal for building a sturdier ladder of opportunity in America," Ryan said. For the full list of House Republican conferees, click here, and for the full list of House Democratic conferees, click here.
It's a tough time for dairy farmers with dropping milk prices and less consumption. They're scraping the barrel and for some, it's proven to be too much. We first reported on the dropping milk prices in March. Months later, things aren't any better. Dairy farmers are as broke as ever and now they're asking for help."I say we're worthless," said Betsy Musser, owner of Den Be Farm.Over 30 years in dairy farming and that's how she feels about her business. Not because she's not proud of Den Be Farm, but because the market for dairy is shrinking."We're producing more and more milk but consumption's dropping," Musser said.
It is a case of good news and bad news for the Van Ommering Dairy in the El Monte Valley. Bad news first: the last dairy in Lakeside is no longer milking cows for commercial purposes. The good news? The local business icon is not going anywhere. The dairy was established by Gerrit and Gerry Van Ommering in 1959. The couple had emigrated from the Netherlands as newlyweds six years earlier. Though neither initially spoke a word of English, the couple made their way to Lakeside and, in 1955, purchased 59 cows from another local dairyman. The Van Ommerings bought the current ranch site four years later. airy farming is a tough business, operating 24 hours a day, every day throughout the year. It is often a family business. Gerrit and Gerry had four children on their ranch – two sons and two daughters. When the older couple passed away, the brothers took over the operation. But recently, one brother has decided to opt out of the business, leaving Dave Van Ommering and his wife Brenda to run the dairy themselves. The decision to end milk production was neither quick nor easy. The pressures that influenced the decision were literally on a global scale. Simply put: milk prices are down and feed prices are up, resulting in an untenable business situation.
The dairy facility, livestock, farmland, ranches and equipment formerly used in the operations of Las Uvas Valley Dairies will be offered for sale. In a separate private listing, the dairy facilities and equipment, ranches, and farmland will be offered by Caprock and MWA. Included in this listing is a well maintained dairy complex with 20,000+/- lockups and a 9,000+/- heifer facility. The offering also includes a large farmland tract with approximately 2,500 acres under drip irrigation and two large ranch properties totaling over 60,000 acres of deeded, BLM and State leased ground with grazing allocations of over 900 animal units.
How will the USDA estimate tariff damages to farmers? “We have analytical procedures that can give us some idea but it’s really going to be really hard,” says Carl Zulauf, Ohio State ag economist. US Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue continues to say there will be help for farmers hurt by the trade disruptions, “I’ve kind of set a deadline for myself, not for anyone else, as Labor Day. That if we can’t have some resolution on trade by Labor Day then we need to look at mitigation procedures and protections for ag producers that really have a negative impact of trade on their bottom line.” Perdue made those comments in Georgia. But, Zuloff says determining how trade disruptions affect prices – aside from a dozen other factors – will be VERY difficult, “We’ve never really been in this situation.” Zulauf says if a damage number comes up as early as Labor Day, it’s going to have a lot of uncertainty around it. USDA could decide to give out partial payments then, and again later as more market impact is known.
When Kevin "Cub" Frisbie wants to see what shale can do for a place, all he has to do is get in his pickup and drive 15 miles south to Bradford County, Pa. There, the pavement on the road smooths out. There are new hotels and a new Dunkin' Donuts. In front of the family farms, Frisbie, a farmer himself, will notice the new silos and equipment. "All this, there's just nothing but commerce going on, commerce going on," he said. Crossing back into Tioga County, N.Y., Frisbie will pass the retired feed mill and the shuttered storefronts of Broad Street. He'll pass farms that he knows are right on the edge of survival, and he might pass the home of an old friend, a dairy farmer, who ignored a hernia for too long — and didn't have health insurance anyway — and died of surgery complications last year. "Fifteen years ago, these two counties were very similar," said Frisbie, a grain and crop farmer who's president of the Tioga County Farm Bureau.What changed, to him, is obvious: Pennsylvania allows fracking, and New York, under Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, banned it. "It's a desolate area, we could use some jobs, we could use some income. And he turned his back on us." The counties that border Tioga to the south, Bradford and Susquehanna, rank in the top three gas-producing counties in Pennsylvania. But gas is providing no shelter in New York's Southern Tier, where the dairy industry has been wrecked by a four-year price slump. Small farms are closing and liquidating by the dozen. Anti-suicide resources are being circulated. Some farmers in other parts of the state have taken their own lives.
While some members of Congress and agricultural groups have been working hard to pass an agricultural labor bill before the August recess, one agricultural group is thanking its members for killing it. Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers, an association representing growers of more than half the produce in the U.S., sent an email to hundreds of his members July 13 thanking them for lobbying against the revised Ag and Legal Workforce Act of House Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va. “We have been informed that the U.S. House of Representatives will NOT vote on legislation next week that would impose mandatory E-Verify (electronic verification of employment eligibility) with no fix for our existing workers,” Nassif wrote. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promised several members of Congress, including Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., to hold a vote on a stand-alone ag labor bill before the August recess, which starts July 27, in exchange for them not backing a maneuver last month that would have allowed votes on Democratic immigration bills. Newhouse said the Ag and Legal Workforce Act, which he helped draft, will be introduced this week and that a vote will happen. The bill provides that illegal immigrants who qualify for a new H-2C-visa guestworker program would obtain visas, then “touchback” in their country of origin and have up to a year to re-enter the U.S. as guestworkers.Nassif said H-2C is an improvement over H-2A for growers using the guestworker program, but H-2C is not workable for many California growers who rely on domestic workers, many of whom are illegal.“The bill would require all of those workers — and we could have 400,000 to 500,000 here in California — to stand up and say we are here illegally, so deport my spouse and convert me to a guestworker,” Nassif said. “Some of them have been here for decades. Our growers tell us that workers tell them they would rather continue living in the shadows than convert to H-2C. So we can’t support a bill that would cause us to lose our workforce.”
The Canadian government has announced an investment of up to C$14 million to help the country’s beef industry to boost sustainability and exports, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada said in a news release. Ottawa’s contribution to the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) adds to the BCRC’s own contribution of up to C$7.6 million, for a total investment of about C$21 million. BCRC is a division of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, AgriScience Clusters.