(For MA residents to act on; for others to read. Apologies for cross
I'm passing this information on to you from Sandie Facey, CISA Local Hero
farmer and member of the Our Family Farms Milk Cooperative. We need you to
act now to help MA dairy farmers.
After surviving a legal challenge by dairy processors in the Supreme Court
earlier this year, the NE Dairy Compact is being threatened by legislation
put forth in Massachusetts by senators from districts with powerful dairy
processors. The senators are proposing that Massachusetts withdraw from
the compact and instead fund dairy farmers directly out of the state budget
to ensure their survival. What seems like a benevolent gesture on the part
of our legislature is actually a tactic to financially undermine the
compact, which has survived numerous legal challenges by processors.
The compact works to protect farmers when milk prices drop below a certain
level. They receive payments from processors to keep the amount they
receive for their milk from dropping so low as to threaten the farm's
survival. The compact has worked to return more money to dairy farmers,
who often receive the smallest amount of any food dollar spent after
processors, middlemen and retailers take their cuts. It has worked to
stabilize dairy farms throughout New England.
The proposed legislation would remove MA farmers from the compact and
substitute a state funded payment. The problem is, this payment is not
guaranteed from year to year and would be at the whim of the legislature to
renew or cancel. It would also remove responsibility for supporting
farmers from processors who are clearly not happy about returning profits
to farmers. And it would most likely cause the end of the compact, hurting
dairy farmers throughout New England.
A common argument against the compact is that it raises milk prices for
consumers. In states like Florida, which lost their dairy industry to
consolidation and competition, milk is shipped from long distances and
costs $4.00 a gallon, much more than it costs in New England. Consumers
and farmers in New England clearly benefit from the compact. It is
processors who want it dismantled.
Unfortunately, the public is being fed distortions by reporters on this
isssue. Here is a quote from yesterday's Boston Globe article about the
"The budget also includes a measure that would begin Massachusetts'
withdrawal from a widely criticized regional dairy compact that
artificially inflates milk prices." So much for objective journalism.
What can you do about this? Two things.
1. Call your Senators and Representatives and tell them that you do not
want MA to withdraw from the NE Dairy Compact, and that you support the
current system of price supports for dairy farmers. Your calls are
CRITICAL. Legislators do listen, and this is a local issue that we can
actually affect, BUT ONLY IF WE TAKE ACTION NOW.
2. Go to a rally at the statehouse on Monday, May 22 at 3:30 p.m. It
would be great to have a big turnout, but if you can't go to Boston, make
the calls to your representatives now.
Email me with questions. Now get to work!
Program and Membership Coordinator
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)
An independent non-profit organization.
893 West Street
Amherst MA 01002-5001
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