WASHINGTON, D.C. (WETM) – Local farmers are speaking out about feeling misrepresented at yesterday’s hearing on dairy prices.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) heard from a panel of economists and dairy farmers from across the country. At the beginning of the hearing, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said the current system of paying farmers for their milk is based on a formula made decades ago.
“The system is inadequate and out of date, we are using an almost 100-year-old system which had its last major reform more than twenty years ago for pricing for an industry where no dairy farmer is running their farm the way they would have a hundred years ago,” said Gillibrand. “They should not be beholden to a price system that operates as if they are.”
But, local dairy producers say they don’t feel as though their voices were heard. In a conference call held after the hearing, local dairy farmers discussed their qualms with the dairy farmers at the panel.
“I was impressed that she put so many excellent opportunities out there for the dairy farmers to run with it, and they were the ones who blew it,” said one dairy producer.
They discussed how they felt that their needs were not represented, and how their story was not told. Others said that they felt “betrayed” and “disappointed.”
Dairy farmers in the area have expressed, time and time again over the years, that the main issue they want to address is the price milk is sold at versus the cost of production. They say that the formula the USDA uses to price milk does not cover the cost of production for farmers.
The overall number of licensed dairy farms in the U.S. has decreased by over 50% since 2003. Now, approximately 30,000 remain.