House Members Seek Help for Struggling Dairy Farmers

In a news release from Friday, House Ag Committee Member Annie Kuster (D., N.H.) indicated that, “Today, [Rep. Kuster] wrote to the House Appropriations Committee with 15 other members of Congress, calling for action to assist struggling American dairy producers. Over the past two years, dairy producers have experienced a significant drop in milk prices, increasing the challenges that many American dairy producers are facing.

“‘As you continue to work on appropriations legislation for Fiscal Year 2017, we write to request your assistance for American dairy producers who have been struggling with near-record low milk prices and unstable domestic and international market conditions,’ wrote Congresswoman Kuster. ‘Specifically, we request the Committee to explore reimbursement options for enrolled producers within the Margin Protection Program (MPP), remove a funding prohibition currently in place within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and direct the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) to conduct a survey of state average feed costs.'”

A copy of Rep. Kuster’s letter, which was also signed by several other members of the House, is available here.

Meanwhile, Jim Martin reported today at the Erie Times-News (Pa.) Online that, “Few places in Pennsylvania have seen a more dramatic decline than Erie County, where the number of dairy farms fell 57 percent between 2002 and 2012, sliding from 170 to just 73. That’s according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which provides the most recent numbers available.

“The loss of dairy farms in other parts of the country has been more gradual, but substantial. In 2002, Pennsylvania was home to 9,629 dairy farms. Ten years later, that number had fallen to 7,829 farms. In Crawford County, 217 dairy farms became 181.

Low prices, coupled with drought conditions in New England, contributed to the loss of 19 of New Hampshire’s 120 dairy farmers in the past few months, according to The New York Times.”

Mr. Martin added that, “As recently as 2014, dairy farmers were collecting some of the highest prices in history, said James Dunn, professor of agricultural economics at Pennsylvania State University.

“Farmers, who sell milk not in gallons, but in 100-pound increments, were collecting an average of $25.64 per hundred pounds or the equivalent of about $2.98 a gallon in 2014, Dunn said. In 2015, that fell to $18.48 per hundred pounds or $2.14 a gallon. For the first six months of this year, he said, the price fell to $16.45 per hundred pounds, about $1.91 a gallon.”

Graph From USDA-NASS, Agricultural Prices

And the most recent Agricultural Prices report from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) stated that, “The September all milk price, at $17.30 per cwt, is up 20 cents from August but is down 20 cents from September 2015.”

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