As an Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery fan, you know that our cooperative is owned by 350 dairy farm families from Wisconsin and Minnesota. They represent a fraction of the farm families across our great country who are facing some extremely challenging times.
For farmers, today’s current market conditions can be compared to the Great Depression. In the dairy industry, we’ve been plagued by low milk prices for the past two years. These conditions have resulted in many dairy operations selling out. You’ve probably seen their stories told on television or read about them in the news. Some of these farmers were members, friends, and families of ours.
The reality is that within our own cooperative, 97% of our farms are estimated to be experiencing financial distress for the first half of 2018. The enactment of recent tariffs on exported dairy products has dropped dairy income by another 25% on top of already low milk prices. Many farmers are on the brink of losing it all or selling out to avoid further debt.
The farmers in our cooperative are not unique—the majority of family farms in the U.S. are struggling and literally just hanging on. The breaking point isn’t coming, it’s already here. We’re about to lose thousands of family owned and operated farms across our country. Your ability to purchase fresh and wholesome food at your local grocery and at a reasonable price is mere months from becoming a thing of the past once these farms are gone. Everything from meat to dairy, grains to produce, poultry, eggs, butter—from grocery stores to your favorite restaurant. Your food choices are about to change and your pocketbook about to be very empty once the farmer is gone.
While for the most part, we enjoy a free enterprise system in the United States, for agriculture economics is a complicated matter. Prices and many other aspects of farming are highly regulated by policy and the government. Whether this is right or wrong, or how it benefits or hinders the farmer, can be debated all day.
Our farmers need help now. In 2008 the banking industry and car manufacturers were said to be too big to fail and the government stepped in to help. Our nation’s food is just as critical to life as we know it. Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture has tools at their disposal to help steady the market for the farmer and consumer. USDA has stated they are ready, willing, and able to deploy these tools and we need USDA to do so now.
That’s where you come in. No matter where you live in the country, we are asking that you place a phone call to your state’s Congressmen and Senators. Simply tell them our nation’s farmers are in desperate need of help and implore Congress and USDA to take action today!
You can find the phone numbers and email addresses of your state’s senators and representatives here:
Senators by State
Representatives by State
The factors contributing to today’s dairy market collapse are unique in these times. Please, please support our farmers so we can ensure a plentiful supply of affordable food on our tables next year.