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June 6, 2017

Pennsylvania Group Asks for National Dairy Hearing

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

The Progressive Agriculture Organization (PAO), Meshoppen, Penn. is petitioning the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct a national hearing on milk prices. The group wants a hearing that would allow dairy farmers to testify to illustrate the severity of pricing problems, says Arden Tewskbury, PAO manager.  

“The main thrust of the petition calls for the abolishing of the present pricing formula used by the USDA to price milk,” says Tewkbury. “Our suggestion is for a new pricing formula to be developed that would consider the dairy farmers’ cost of producing milk.”

The group points out that 2016 milk price averaged $15.38/cwt in the 10 Federal Milk Marketing Orders.  USDA’s analysis also shows that the national average cost of producing milk last year was $21.87. (This cost typically includes full ownership costs including depreciation.) “This means the average dairy farmer lost $6.49 per cwt. (or 60¢ per gallon) on all their milk produced in 2016,” says Tewskbury.

Organizations that signed letters of support included the National Family Farm Coalition, the National Grange, and Willie Nelson’s FARMAID, Family Farm Defenders, the Food and Water Watch group of Washington D,C.,  the Pennsylvania State Grange, the NY State Grange, the Pennsylvania Farmers Union, the Susquehanna County Farm Bureau, and Progressive Agriculture Organization. Dairy Cooperatives who signed on to the letter include Middlebury Cooperative, Milk Producers Association Inc., and the Tioga Valley Milk Cooperative.

Support was also given to the petition by the following Pennsylvania county commissioners:  Pike County, Wayne County, Susquehanna County, Wyoming County, Bradford County, Sullivan County, and Union County.   Also submitted to the department was a petition signed by the commissioners of ten counties that went to the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. members of Congress on May 27, 2016.