Tags: dairy farms | vermont

Oversupply Causing Dairy Farmers to Seek Sustainable Model

a white barn in a field on a sunny day
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By    |   Monday, 13 May 2019 01:02 PM

After losing more than 400 dairy farms over the last 11 years, Vermont is one of several states in the U.S. looking for answers to save their dairy industry, Valley News reports.

Farmers have struggled to survive primarily because of a decline in milk prices due to oversupply, as well as a drop in consumption that’s slowly eroded the industry for the last three decades. In addition, tariffs imposed by the Trump administration have caused retaliation from Mexico, Europe, Canada, and China against American dairy products.

“I’ve been in this for over 40 years, and this is as bad as it’s ever been,” Jacques Parent, who runs a large dairy operation in northwestern Vermont, told the Associated Press last month.

Independent dairy farmers have been hit by big corporations entering the industry using new technology that make milking more efficient, which has led to oversupply.

And, competition among states has played a part as well. In 2012, then-Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin initiated a program that encouraged dairy farmers to ramp up production to surpass that of California, the nation’s leading milk producer. The program worked, but the glut devastated the market, farm advocacy groups maintain.

The 2018 farm bill includes a “dairy margin coverage” program that’s expanded insurance coverage that may offer farmers some relief when it begins next month.

But the problems are causing dairy farmers to seek other models for the industry, and are eyeing a national milk supply management program Canada created in the 1960s to combat low milk prices.

The aim of the program is to limit production to expected consumption which would have the effect of stabilizing prices. Farmers would hold a license to produce a certain amount, thereby preventing a glut. The farmers then receive a specified price for what they produce. That system is not without its critics who argue it causes consumers to pay higher prices and hurts poor families the most.

At a two-day dairy summit held in Jay, Vermont, last month, Kara O’Connor of the Wisconsin Farmers Union broached the issue, stating, “We’re inviting people to consider whether consumers might pay a few cents more for a gallon of milk in exchange for saving hundreds of dairy farms per year and paying less in taxes for government dairy programs.”

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After losing more than 400 dairy farms over the last 11 years, Vermont is one of several states in the U.S. looking for answers to save their dairy industry, Valley News reports. Farmers have struggled to survive primarily because of a decline in milk prices due to...
dairy farms, vermont
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2019-02-13
Monday, 13 May 2019 01:02 PM
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