Washington Post Letter to the Editor on Dairy Farming and Milk Prices from National Family Farm Coalition’s Executive Director

Support that dairy farmers deserve
Monday, October 19, 2009
The Oct. 9 editorial “Got Money?,” denouncing $350 million in emergency funding for dairy farmers, accused those farmers — suffering through their worst crisis since the Great Depression — of milking taxpayers and consumers. Nowhere did it mention the real beneficiaries of the millions that we are spending to sustain the livelihoods of America’s remaining 59,000 dairy farmers: corporate agribusinesses.
While farmers are receiving 1970 prices for their milk (not adjusted for inflation), Dean Foods, the largest fluid milk processor, and Kraft Foods have recorded gigantic profit increases. Because dairy processors refuse to pay farmers a fair price for their milk, taxpayers are now subsidizing their profits. Consumers should target their outrage at these entities, not dairy farmers, who have no control over the price they receive or the prices at the grocery store.
We have lost more than 80 percent of our dairy farmers since 1981, when President Ronald Reagan decided to deregulate the price of milk. For anyone who wants access to local fresh milk and fears becoming reliant on imports of powdered milk, supporting our remaining dairy farmers is vital.
Katherine Ozer, Washington
Executive Director
National Family Farm Coalition

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