Sunday, March 27, 2011

Words of the Wise

A recent opinion article by George Mueller, a very respected dairyman from New York State, touched on many issues in “Dairy farming is facing a new dawn.”  As a fellow dairy farmer and self-proclaimed advocate for the industry and a blogger, I found this article exhilarating and a great piece to use here today.

Mr. Mueller is truly a visionary and a progressive dairyman.  His intellect, decades of farming experience, and common sense economics helped craft this opinion piece into a work of art.  Now what do I mean by that, and in saying that, am I not objective?  Yes, in a way I am, but the facts cited in the article are just those…facts, and they paint a picture of the dairy industry, the American problems we face today, and offer wisdom to readers across the board.  Let me share some of Mr. Mueller’s words with you.
In regards to adopting a quota system for the dairy industry, Mueller has this to say.

            We must get rid of this idea of gaining prosperity by cutting back on supply.
            It didn’t work when President Roosevelt killed pigs during the Great Depression. 
            It didn’t work by destroying perfectly good cars during the “Cash for Clunkers”  
            program. (Mueller, 2011)

If any of you cannot relate to more than the “Cash for Clunkers”, that is fine…just that example paints the picture Mueller is trying to create.  Reread those words again if you have to, and think of prosperity.  

Furthermore, in regards to policy and supply & demand in the dairy industry Mueller shares these thoughts.
            In this country, when world price dropped below our support price [milk], we quit             supplying the overseas market and sold to the government instead. Because of our             support price, even though it is very low, it still interrupts our supplying world   

            We thus have a reputation for being an inconsistent supplier and a last choice when
            a world customer is seeking a dependable supplier of dairy products. (Mueller, 

I couldn’t agree more—inconsistency costs money, and more importantly, trust.  In any industry, any organization, any household or relationship, inconsistency will cost you in the long run.  

Mueller, G. (2011, March 16). Dairy farming is facing a new dawn . Retrieved March 2011, 2011, from Progressive Dairyman :

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Another Lesson from Harry Truman

“In the long view, no nation is healthier than its children, or more prosperous than its farmers,” President Harry Truman, (Laws, 2011).  I had to do a presentation in fourth grade on a historical figure, naturally I picked a president—I loved presidential facts and history.  So here I am 11-12 years later quoting Harry Truman once again.

There is a lot of truth in those words you see, “[…] no nation is healthier than its children, or more prosperous than its farmers.”  I found this quote in a recent article, Different farm bill for 'different times'.  As the discussion starts over the creation of the 2012 Farm Bill, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, addressed USDA's Agricultural Outlook Conference on the importance and dedication required to the task at hand.  The senator compared the economic circumstances for farmers today to that of the Great Depression.  But in contrast, the next farm bill, the Senator pleaded, needs to build on principles rather than farm programs; and she, “[…] indicated she will work for smarter, simpler and streamlined farm programs.” (Laws, 2011)     
The national and state budget situations, as bad as they are, will positively influence this goal.  Recently, everyone is up in arms over budget cuts.  Last November, the American tax payers voted for less spending, but once THEIR organizations/affiliates are targets of budget cuts, they turn into hypocrites.  

I believe some of our most effective legislation can be enacted at this time.  The general public and mainstream media portrays agricultural subsidies as wasteful, and now the time has come for effective change.  Many farmers recognize the programs that don’t benefit them or the long term productivity of agriculture—more times than not they benefit land owners that enroll now non-producing farm land in conservation programs—robbing tax payers of funds that could be used in ‘smarter, simpler and more streamlined farm programs.’ 

The strength of the American and Global economy is very much influenced by the strength, and more so the stability of the American agricultural economy.  Comparatively, the devastating dairy situation in 2009 matched that of the American economy, did it not?  And how did we try to fix both, lots of stimulus money!  Did it work?  The real question, why did it happen and what policies and farm programs are truly needed?  Interestingly, the USDA has changed its direction on dairy program subsidies, focusing more on risk management, notably through Dairy Livestock Gross Margin Insurance, rather than the MILC (Milk Income Loss Contracts) that pay direct payments for lost milk sales income.  I believe this encompasses the ‘smarter, simpler, streamlined’ approach to farm programs, and agree with it. 

We have already realized our children are not as healthy as they could be, and have thus started working towards reducing childhood obesity.  It is now time, in the midst of national and state budgets crises and the formation of the 2012 Farm Bill, to apply the same philosophy to farm programs—funding for prevention measures and correction—and live up to Harry Truman’s truth.    
Laws, F. (2011, March 4). Different farm bill for 'different times'. Retrieved March 6,       2011, from   Western Farm Press: different-times