Farmers, rural residents and others suggest ideas for addressing the dairy crisis
Family dairy farms are in crisis across the country due to persistently low milk prices. Too many long-running farms have sold their cows and left the industry after generations. Farmers Union has been advocating for family farmers throughout this difficult time and wanted to know what they thought could help.
Last month, MFU hosted two Rural Dairy Discussions with the goal of hearing some solutions from farmers struggling through this crisis. Taking place in Stearns and Wabasha counties, MFU provided farmers with the opportunity to speak their thoughts about what they are experiencing and how to address the current milk crisis.
Discussion participants consisted of local farmers and community members, with three listening panelists: Gary Wertish, MFU President; Andrea Vaubel, Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture; and Patty Edelburg, Vice President of National Farmers Union. The panelists were invited to hear the concerns of farmers and take any ideas or solutions back to legislators and advocate for what farmers need.
Many opinions, thoughts and possible solutions were shared throughout the events. Supply management and the prices at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange were just a couple of the ideas mentioned.
Overall, farmers said they are worried about younger generations continuing to farm after they retire.
“My goal is I get to be replaced,” said Dan Perkins, Paynesville participant, “replace myself and my commitment to my community.”
Participants shared a collective head nod at this comment, for that is what many farmers want to see.
Multiple other organizations were in attendance, as well as Minnesota State Legislators and Congressional staff members, who pledged that they would bring back what they heard for policy consideration. MFU staff took extensive notes on the discussions, which are being compiled into a report that will be distributed to elected officials and media. It will also be available on the MFU website.
Events like these support MFU’s goals to provide a space for our members to be heard and to advocate for their needs. We support all family farmers and assist them with whatever their needs may be.