This is a great country for stepping in and rescuing those who need it. We as Americans do our job so well at home that we’re the first called upon when need arises in other countries with their crisis. We never say no.

But now we’re failing to listen to the calls for help. Even as the calls grow louder, they are being ignored. And we are going to pay a painful price for doing so.

Farmers in this country’ are in a free-fall of despair unlike ever seen. The prices they receive for milk – as set by the US government – don’t cover the cost of producing that milk. One by one, the work force that allowed this country to become independent and self-sustaining is becoming extinct.

We all know that a farming life isn’t easy. Subject to the weather, farmers learn to live with bad years occasionally bro­ken up with a good year. Get upset when a planned event doesn’t go as expected due to the weather? Imaginee if your livelihood depended on the weather.

Then there are the never-ending, must be done on time chores. Not only do the cows need to be milked on a pre­dictable cycle, but they hate going away from the pasture, so let’s rule out taking a vacation for the most part. –

And unlike most jobs where the adults go off to each day and leave the family behind, farming is a family package deal. . Can’t get your teenager to clean his room? What if you had to get him to clean the barn?

So it’s not easy under the best of circumstances, and the year 2009 is hardly that. In addition to losing money as milk prices have declined, costs have gone up for farming, as farm businesses struggle to keep going in a tough economy.

What can the non-farming community do to help our neighbors survive?

Stop by farm stands and farmers markets and buy your vegetables and fruit directly from the grower. Reach for the milk in the grocery store instead of soda. Round up the kids in the neighborhood, take -them to a local farm and say, ‘here, they’re yours for the day. Give them some work.’ Ask what you can do for them.

Also, help get the attention of those in Washington, D.C. that this is a problem that needs to be addressed now. Milk prices need to be set at a level that allows for farmers to make a profit to live on. Ask town and county officials to lend their voices to the appeals for help.

When gas prices go up, out come the arguments on how this country is dependent on oil from other countries.

Imagine if our milk supply and prices were set by another country. What if our vegetables came from elsewhere, with different growing regulations and safety requirements?

Save the farmers. It’s how we’ll save ourselves.

Letter to the Editor Waterville Times August 5, 2009

To the editor:

Anyone who hasn’t been under a rock for the past eight months knows that dairy farmers are experiencing their lowest their lowest incomes since 1978, but their expenses are three times what they were in 1978. The experts told us to hang on until June and milk prices would increase. Guess what folks, milk prices have actually gone down.

Our milk is marketed by DMS (Dairy Marketing Services). We just received the July newsletter. It says, “Everyone in the industry is waiting for the much antici­pated change in the market­place to occur. While much of the information in this Milk Price Update sounds like what we’ve been telling you for some time now, factors are occuring pretty much the way we expected them to occur, The only exception is that dairy cow attrition DUE TO LENDER ACTION has not happened, although it is only a matter of time before it does.”

WHAT??? The in-the-gutter price that we have been receiving is because not enough-lenders have fore­closed on farmers? I suppose that it has nothing to do with the” fact that the processors are paying us hardly anything for our milk, robbing the pub­lic by keeping the price of dairy products artificially high, and filling their back pockets with record profits-AND-the government lets them get away with it with its out-of-date pricing system.

Dairy farmers have been crying for months to our elected officials, but so far it’s been all talk and no action. Farmers and consumers need to call their Congressmen and INSIST that they support the biIlS-889. It’s the only bill out there that deals with the cheap imports that the gov­ernment lets the processors bring into displace our domestic supply. It also deals with supply-manage­ment and cost of production. There are several ideas out there, but the only actual bill is S-889. No other plan deals with imports, and if imports aren’t controlled, then the minute that the price of milk goes up even a little bit the processors will just import more MPC’s (Milk Protein Concentrates) to drive the price right back down.

Pro Ag is sponsoring a sec­ond Farmer’s Rally on Aug. 14 at one o’clock at the West Winfield Middle School. We are asking all producers, agri-business people, and consumers to attend and voice your concerns to our elected officials. It will prob­ably be the one day of the week that it doesn’t rain and farmers will want to hay it, but if milk prices don’t turn around soon, they won’t need any hay.

I scanned the Editoral and a letter to the editor from today’s Waterville Times – a very small weekly newspaper in central NY – that I thought you all might be interested in. They’ve been good about printing our letters and at long last, the Editor is taking up the plight of our dairy farmers, who are 2nd in the US for the worst economic situation. (Only CA beats us for losing the most money in dairy farming.) Two of my closest friends own dairy farms. They are long past hanging on by their fingernails – both have had to take bank loans just to meet their monthly expenses while they try to hang on for the increase in price they were promised in June and which never came.

I will be attending the Pro-Ag Farmer’s Rally and will be printing off some no-NAIS info to hand out – especially since some of our elected officials will be there. Maybe at long last our elected officials will wake up to what NAIS will do to ALL of us with farms in this area.