‘We don’t have sufficient capacity today to process all of the milk.’
ST. ALBANS — Vermont farmers will need to organize their peers around the country to lobby for the policies they want to see in the next farm bill. That was the message Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., brought to a Tuesday meeting with farmers at the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery.
Welch spoke with farmers about a number of policies impacting farmers, including immigration, labeling laws, and trade policy, but the focus was on the farm bill now in the early stages of development. The current farm bill expires in 2018.
Farmers have been in a price slump since 2014, when record high milk prices came to a predicted end.
For decades, dairy farmers have been caught in a cycle in which an oversupply of milk leads to a drop in prices, forcing some farms out of business. Supply would then drop, resulting in an increase in prices. As prices rose, milk production would increase leading to another oversupply and eventual drop in prices.
This time, supply hasn’t dropped, and at the point in the cycle where prices should be going up, farmers are seeing only a modest uptick in the sale price of their milk.
The oversupply is causing farmers to dump milk. “Any time you dump a load of milk into a manure pit… you’re wasting a farmer’s assets,” said Highgate farmer Bill Rowell.
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