Local producers don’t see solutions in Farm Bill debate

CHENANGO COUNTY – A fair price for milk shouldn’t be regulated by Washington, one local dairy producer says – it should come from the market.

“We don’t need to be paid out of taxpayers’ pockets,” said South New Berlin farmer Ken Dibbell. “We need to get paid by the market.”

At $18.86 per hundredweight, federally regulated milk prices for July 2007 will be nearly double what they were a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but the cost of production – steadily hovering around $24 per hundredweight for the last five months – is still outstripping any returns local farms receive.

“Three words – cost of production. They ignore it. It’s right in front of them. If we don’t fix it, there won’t be any small farms left in five years,” said Dibbell. “That’s my prediction.”

Dibbell said Washington should gather consumer’s thoughts when designing dairy policy in the upcoming U.S. Farm Bill debate, and ultimately let market forces decide what farmers get paid, not big cooperatives and big farm interests.

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