Regarding the story published Feb. 16 titled "Locals Embrace Farm Bill," most reading this article wouldn't notice the big mistakes made in comments by Fulton County Farm Bureau Vice President Lee Hollenbeck and New York State Farm Bureau spokesman Steve Ammerman. They state the new yogurt processing facilities built in the state purchasing millions of gallons of New York dairy farm milk are not paying enough to farmers. They try to explain yogurt is categorized as class 4, which usually represents the lowest price paid to producers. They are incorrect; in fact, milk that is made into yogurt is class 2 milk, which is traditionally the second highest price paid to dairy farmers and has helped to increase their paychecks over the past four to five years while bringing thousands of new jobs to the area. Mr. Hollenbeck states, "The federal government has to get away from that Minnesota-Wisconsin price ordering system..." Well, he is correct they should, and The United States Department of Agriculture did exactly that in 2000 with major reforms to the system, voted on and approved by dairy farmers nationally.
The farm bill doesn't usually address or create new dairy farmer pricing policies. It is a bit of a surprise and good to learn Farm Bureau has been lobbying for changes in the Federal Milk Marketing Order system. Dairy farmers created the federal order milk pricing system and continue to control its destiny. They can vote the system out if they want to, but for some reason don't.
We welcome new ideas about how to keep our dairy industry competitive and thriving in New York state. We look forward to working with producers to have a sustainable milk supply and demand pricing system, be prosperous and keep competitive domestically and internationally.
BRUCE W. KRUPKE, executive vice president, Northeast Dairy Foods Association Inc.