I have just gotten back from Sacramento. Karen Ross had called a hearing to raise all Class Milk prices for up to 6 month to help dairy farmers through this terrible crisis. Mind you getting to a meeting in Sacramento at 7 am on the Friday before Christmas was no easy task.
I was proud to see many dairy farmers there. There were also plenty of processors there to fight it. Their lack of empathy toward our dairy crisis is disturbing.
I have been up since 230 am so I will post my testimony for you to read. There was a lot of very good producer testimony and I do hope that we were heard.
I am here today urging you to increase the pay price that dairy farmers receive. We have been receiving nearly $2.OO less per hundred weight than the rest of the United States for far too long. Along with that we have the highest costs and the highest regulations as well as providing the highest quality of milk. 300 dairy families gone along with another 100 this year. We have been pleading and petitioning for a year all to be denied and delayed. All the while many dairy families have lost or are losing their generational farms and culling generational herds. We hear from processors that we need to become more efficient . I can guarantee you this ... The dairy farmers that are still in business today have become efficient or else they would not be in business today. I would only hope that our government would become as efficient as us dairy farmers...we would not be on the fiscal cliff we are standing on right now. Have any of you ever here seen a dairy farmer walk around his dairy after the cows have left for slaughter? It is heart breaking...it is a memory that will never leave me. I pray that no more dairy families have to take that walk. Those of us still here are fighting for our lives. Yet, as we fight for our lives our main concern is to feed and care for our cows. Everything we do revolves around our animals that is pressure that you will never understand. Getting the cows fed and feeling relived, only, then to have the burden of figuring out how you are going to cover your other bills like payroll, electric,fuel,insurance, environmental regulation fees and God help us if we have a blown tire on the tractor or a pump goes out. I do not wish the stress and pressure on any of you. Though I would like for you to walk in my shoes for a day... We dairy families rallied on the Capitol steps in September and October . Only to be treated as a minor nuisance. It was disheartening for so many but I am extremely proud that, finally, California dairy farmers And 3 of our major co-ops stood together. I am disappointed in the actions of Secretary Ross and the CDFA. I would never expect you to work and not receive a fair wage for what you do. Yet you have sat back and watched the demise of so many dairy families knowing that we were receiving so much less than the rest of the nation. Shame on you CDFA for waiting so long and hoping it would fix itself as it has done in the past. Shame on you for not appreciating the California dairy families and all they have contributed to California. In March of this year was the first I heard of the forming of a task force to fix our industry for the long term. I pray for its success. As predicted, It had not started off to be very fruitful. The one plus I see from there meeting is that Sec Ross could see for herself the true line in the sand between producers and processors. There is a dark, sinister cloud that looms in our industry. I hope that we can work to change our system for a healthy dairy industry in the future and to rid the dark forces that shadow it. Here we are at years end asking yet again, to be given some type of relief as a result of this hearing. I urge you to act swiftly. We are hanging on by a thread and for too many it is already too late.