OPINION After I graduated from high school I had a real urge to become involved in agriculture. I started working on a local dairy farm for a few years and then decided I wanted a dairy farm of my own. It appeared the majority of local dairy farms were successful. In addition I opened a farm-supply store in 1995 in order that local farmers would have the opportunity to buy locally.
From the beginning my store was well-patronized by local dairy farmers and others. At that time in addition to my store I began a hay business. I also created a display at the Wyoming County fair.
We know dairy farming is a good way to raise a family, but as we moved into the year 2000 we began to lose the majority of dairy farms in my area. Scores of dairy farmers who patronized my supply business were gone. During that time I testified at a Pro-Ag milk hearing; I explained to everyone that if they didn’t start pricing milk differently we were going to see the demise of our local small dairy farms. I strongly supported Bill S-1640, the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act, which brings the cost of production into the pricing formula.
It appears the majority of our politicians just don’t understand in order for dairy farmers to succeed they must be able to cover the cost of their production. What’s hard to understand about that?
In my area, in the surrounding counties, we are down to a handful of dairy farms. I wish the politicians would come to my store so I could give them an earful. I have suffered through all those problems, first as a dairy farmer and then as an agri-business owner. What I have gone through is a clear example of what is happening to dairy farms and agri-businesses all across the United States. Either the U.S. Congress or the U.S. Department of Agriculture must act immediately or we will see the complete demise of our dairy farms.
-- Francis Wilcox, Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania
Submitted by Progressive Agriculture