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                         On The Farm   

                                                      May 18,2013

  Dear Senator,                                    


  I am a dairy farmer anxious to see a new Farm Bill, one which offers the potential, through its tools and policy, to improve conditions for the dairy farmer. 1970 recorded 648,000 dairy farms in this country, today 49,000 remain, though fewer in number we produce a burgeoning supply of milk, which at times over supplies the market. Our need is to better utilize farm assets, rather than infrequently, but nonetheless, supply the market below our cost to produce milk, and then require government help. The question of need is evidenced by declining farm numbers, and therefore, we request your help to implement an improved dairy policy in the new Farm Bill. 

  The Dairy Security Act, as proposed, offers the dairy farmer a management tool which responds to market demand, the normal function of a market is to either expand or contract, and currently the farmer has no meaningful response to a receding market, but must maintain cash flow to avoid becoming insolvent. When price begins to erode, more milk is produced for what has then become an already saturated market, a supply / demand approach to achieve market balance would reduce price volatility, improve the use of farm assets, and offer the taxpayer a reduced expense. 

  International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), however, has long worked to encourage market oversupply, milk is the chief input cost for dairy processors, and oversupplied markets ensure distressed pricing. During 2009, dairy farmers converted $16 Billion worth of equity to loans, yet national policy offered the farmer no means of responding to those receding markets, an expensive oversight.

  The support price for milk today remains at $9.90 per hundredweight (cwt), about half its cost to produce. During the early 1980's the federal price support reached a high of $13.40 per cwt, but due to  excessive market oversupply, Congress and the Reagan Administration allowed it to recede to its current level of $9.90 per cwt.

  Recently, The House Ag Committee defeated an amendment introduced by Representatives Goodlatte, Va., and Scott, Ga., which would have removed an essential tool from the Dairy Security Act, a maneuver which would have left the taxpayer funded / farmer funded safety net standing alone, such an amendment would create an endless supply of cheap milk for the processor, but at great expense to others; I would kindly ask you to keep that in mind if such an amendment comes to be reintroduced. Our history speaks for itself, but without farmers in the equation there is no dairy industry, lets not revisit policy terminated by Congress, and The President, back during 1981.

Thank you for your consideration of the dairy farmer, and taxpayer.



Bill Rowell

Dairy Farmer, Vt.              




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CONTACT :  billrowell@billrowell.org