I have been reading a lot of comments floating around on the web regarding the announcement yesterday about the $290 million set to be distributed to dairy farmers from the government/FSA/USDA. I have some thoughts I would like to share.
First and foremost, this aid is just that...aid. To an industry that needs to fix it's pricing system so a year as dramatic as 2009 doesn't happen again. This is a "Help Out" not a "Hand Out". As dairy farmers, we provide a product that is necessary for life. You can live without a car, but you can't live without food. This money will be returned to our local and state economies through purchases for feed, fuel, and so many other materials we need.
I believe that as dairy farmers, if we work hard to produce a safe, wholesome product for consumers and ourselves, then we should be paid for it. I wish we didn't have to accept a payment from the government to pay our bills or just survive, but it's the reality of our situation. Today we received our milk check for our milk produced in November-we FINALLY received enough money to pay our monthly bills and put a little in the bank. I couldn't believe it-it's been almost 12 months since we actually produced milk "in the black". Did you have to go to work this year and pay admission? I did, every day for the last 12 months. I didn't really complain about it, I was more focused on giving the best possible care that I could to my cows-so we didn't lose as much money as we could have.
2009 was the "perfect storm". We had higher feed costs, higher fuel cost, and we had a recession taking away our customers...you, me, and citizens of the world. We hope with the help our government officials we can change how milk is priced and reduce the volatility in the markets. I believe that challenges like this bring out the best in dairy farmers, but in 2009, even the BEST farmer produced milk for a LOSS. Those of us that are left after this year, have repairs that NEED to be done since we put them off, we have broken equipment that NEEDS to be replaced, we have savings accounts that NEED to be refilled, we have bills that NEED to be paid, we have banks and lenders that NEED to be paid back, and we have families that could use a much needed vacation.
Jonathan and I plan to use our portion of this money to pay our bills. We hope that if we pull enough money out of our last remaining savings account and use this money that we can start 2010 with no bills due from 2009. I can't believe how hard 2009 was, but 2010, we hope can be better. We only ask for a fair price and for no more government dollars, but for now...we will take the help. Thank you US Tax payers....your dollars did go to a good place, and we will pay it back when we start to earn a salary once again!