Pennsylvania Family Farm Defenders Calls NMPF Plan into QuestionOn March 22, 2011 by Ryan Dennis
The following has been released by the Pennslyvania Family Farm Defenders:
Meshoppen, PA: As National Milk Producers Federation’s (NMPF’s) “Foundation for the Future” (FFTF) nears completion as legislation and its benefits are widely being touted, Pennsylvania Family Farm Defenders (PA F.F.D.) is concerned that there are serious reasons to believe that the alleged benefits of FFTF are vastly overstated. Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), University of Missouri, did an analysis of NMPF’s FFTF program soon after the plan was released in June of 2010. FAPRI projected that the average price of milk paid to dairy farmers would be no higher under NMPF’s program, than if nothing were to be done at all, perhaps even slightly lower. “Margin insurance” is a key part of the FFTF. Under FFTF, the government, which everyone knows means “taxpayers,” would provide a base level of “margin insurance.” According to NMPF’s own graphs, only about nine months in the last 10 years would have triggered payment in the base program. Any additional insurance would have to be purchased by the already financially strapped dairy farmer above the cost share by the Federal Government. Essentially farmers would be paying for “margin insurance” even though the average price of milk will not likely increase. Lenders may insist that farmers purchase this “margin insurance” in order to obtain financing. Small farms which were eligible for Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program payments on their full production will almost certainly come up short under NMPF’s program if, as expected, the MILC program which made direct payments to dairy farmers when milk prices dropped below a certain level, is eliminated and replaced by the “margin insurance” program. “Competitive Pricing” when there is little competition in the market place, is not likely to increase farm milk price since the survey will show what processors think milk should be worth. “Make Allowances” would supposedly be done away with, but, in fact, processors will be figuring their costs into the value of milk, thus having even more freedom to “cover their costs” than under the current system. NMPF is comprised of many dairy cooperatives which were established under the Capper-Volstead Act of 1922. This Act gave co-ops collective bargaining rights that are supposed to be used to give dairy farmers economic power in the “marketplace.” By failing to focus on fair prices for their dairy farmer membership, these co-ops have violated the spirit of the Capper-Volstead Act. Both NMPF and the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) have failed to address trade practices that result in lower farm milk prices. The Pennsylvania Family Farm Defenders rejects the claim that FFTF will benefit dairy farmers and calls instead for a pricing system that is based on dairy farmers total cost of production with a common sense supply management or growth management system that allows young farmers to enter the dairy business. The PA F.F.D. is a chapter of the Family Farm Defenders (FFD), a Wisconsin based organization whose mission is to create a farmer-controlled and consumer-oriented food system. FFD has worked to create opportunities for farmers to join together and forge alliances with consumers while returning a fair price to farmers. For milk pricing information based on cost of production please visit www.cop4dairy.com. There you will find a background for cost of production and other useful information that highlights the serious challenges facing America’s dairy farmers and consumers, plus an analysis of NMPF’s Foundation for the Future. It is time that farmers get informed on what is being done “on their behalf.” The PA F.F.D. can be reached can be reached at email@example.com.