Canadian dairy farmer to share perspective at Dairy Together events


Aug. 28 event being held in Maria Stein

Staff report



MARIA STEIN, Ohio – Dairy Farmers of Ontario Vice Chairman Murray Sherk will visit Ohio on August 28, 2018, to share his perspective on pros and cons of the Canadian dairy supply management system.

His visit will be part of a series of forums held around the nation that will highlight impacts of dairy policy, including supply management, on dairy farming communities. The program will consider whether elements of the Canadian system could be incorporated into the U.S. dairy industry to balance milk supply and demand.

The event will take place at the American Legion Hall in Maria Stein, Ohio, August 28, beginning at 11 a.m.

The events are being organized by the Ohio Farmers Union, the Wisconsin Farmers Union, the National Farmers Organization, and the National Farmers Union.

Sherk will cover topics like how new farmers get started in a quota-based system, how processors participate, and what impact inventory management has had on Canadian consumer dairy prices.

“Clearly, the dairy pricing structure we have here in the United States is not serving family farmers well,” said WFU President Darin Von Ruden, a Vernon County dairy farmer. “These meetings will offer a chance to hear how the Canadian system helps keep dairy prices paid to farmers stable, as opposed to the wild swings and crushingly low prices that have been putting U.S. dairy farmers out of business.”

In a dairy industry producer survey, conducted by the Wisconsin Farmers Union in 2016, The majority of respondents were receiving a pay price that was below the cost of production. Many of the farmers who responded were interested in big-picture solutions to improve the economics for their own farm and for future generations. Farmers expressed concern that the continuing push for very large dairy expansion was undermining market and price stability. Many were interested in learning more about how supply management would work, but were skeptical that a government-administered program is the right way to go. There was clear interest in a farmer-controlled mechanism.

“The stress and difficulty of current dairy economics is considerable, and this pressure is growing,” Von Ruden said. “This will again be a very difficult year for dairy farmers.”

“We’ve lost far too many dairy farms in the past decade,” he said. “You need look no further than the local newspaper auction ads to see the severity of what is happening across the countryside.”

“We’ve communicated specifically with bankers about the dangers posed by oversupply and encouraged them to be part of the solution rather than encouraging even greater dairy expansion,” Von Ruden added.

WFU has also developed a model contract that, if adopted, would provide basic stability and protections to both farmers and processors.

Farmers share a deep concern about the future of their farms and communities. They believe that we can have a more resilient economy when we have more farms rather than fewer. That starts with working together to assure that our current dairy farms have a fair opportunity to survive and thrive … We think that the future of the dairy “way of life” is a future worth fighting for.

Each of the Dairy Together events are free to attend and include a free meal. RSVP to Ohio Farmers Union by calling 419-523-5300 or by clicking on the corresponding event at www.ohfarmersunion.org

Aug. 28 event being held in Maria Stein

Staff report