Dairy producers rally at capitol
Des Moines – “This has reached a crisis point in rural Iowa” reported Jerry Harvey, dairy producer from Southern Iowa. Milk prices have dropped by almost half in the past year.
On Tuesday a group of dairy farmers gathered on the west side of the capital to raise awareness about the low milk prices in relation to feed costs.
To begin the rally, a letter from Willie Nelson, farm aid president was read, stating “Right now is the time to change policy to create a fair and just agriculture and food system that benefits our family farmers, our communities, and the good health of everyone who eats. This is what we’re working for. And we’re going to stick with it ’til the cows come home!”
Iowa Farmers Union President Chris Petersen compared the dairy situation to the past crises in hog production and simply stated “We are at a crossroads in Agriculture, we need to decide who will produce our food, farmers or vertically integrated corporations.”
Dairy producer Francis Thicke spoke, pointing out that as prices rose for dairy producers, prices also rose in the grocery store, however, as prices have recently fallen for producers, the retail prices have remained relatively high. Additionally he questioned why Dairy Farmers of America, supposedly a cooperative of farmers, has 12 licenses to import dairy products into the U.S. and how that could possibly benefit its farmer members.
Dairy Farmers of America, a cooperative of 18,000 dairy farmers estimated to control 30-40% of the commodity milk market, has recently come under scrutiny from the U.S. Commodity future trading commission. In December, two former executives and the organization were ordered to pay $12 million on charges of attempting to manipulate milk markets on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Dairy farmers present at the rally called for a congressional investigation into dairy and commodity price manipulation, passing a milk marketing improvement act, as well as enforcing anti-trust laws to ensure independent farmers access to markets, producer protections from monopolies, and transparency in prices.
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