The creation of a foreclosure mitigation program and elimination of forward contracting are among eight moves National Farmers Union delegates have named to help dairy farmers out of the ongoing dairy crisis.
Wisconsin Farmers Union representatives this morning joined other states' delegates to make resolving the dairy crisis one of the NFU's special orders of business.
The delegates, meeting at the NFU's annual convention in Rapid City, also asked that forward contracting for milk be discontinued.
Wisconsin Farmers Union President Dairy Von Ruden, who is among the delegates, said the actions are needed because, though prices farmers receive for their cows' milk had moved up slightly, the prices had fallen again. The national average price farmers received for milk in 2009 was $13 a hundredweight, while some U.S. Department of Agriculture analysts have placed the farmers' production price at nearly $24 a hundredweight.
"Even if the price would crawl back up, the hits dairy farmers took during 2009 left many of them in terrible financial positions," Von Ruden said. "Anyone saying otherwise is blind or doesn't have a finger anywhere near the farmers' pulse. Something has to get done, and it has to get done in a hurry."
On Monday, Von Ruden asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to find ways to get loans into farmers' hands. That's a challenge because, during 2009, many dairy farmers lost much of their equity.
The proposals the NFU are asking Congress and the Obama administration to implement are:
- Increase the dairy price support program to account for the total cost of production.
- Make available low-interest and emergency loans, including a foreclosure mitigation program.
- Eliminate forward contracting, which delegates said shifts all economic risks onto producers, encourages vertical integration and dismantles the federal milk market order system.
- Close the trade loophole that allows for unlimited imports of milk protein concentrates.
- Enforce the current definition of milk in the regulation of standardized dairy products.
- Create immediate oversight of the dairy-product pricing system to ensure transparency, fairness and competitive markets.
- Require accurate recording and publishing of import data.
- Immediately implement the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 provisions related to the federal milk marketing order system.
Wisconsin Farmers Union delegates agreed with other national delegates saying that milk-price collapses that occurred while production was down and demand was up is clear evidence that the federal dairy pricing system is broken and needs immediate repair.