Posts Tagged ‘crisis’

Cows Cooling Off

Cows Cooling Off

Summertime! It is here with a fury. As a child it was my favorite time of year. When you are young you don’t have as many worries as we do as adults. I used to have fun playing on the dairy, barefoot, making “Big Foot” prints in the fresh cow patties and then running through the “wash pen” to wash off and cool off. I was out there with the cows running around in my swim suit with out a care in the world. My dad made sure the cows were always comfortable. He would keep them longer in the “wash pen” and they were blessed with shades.

We continue to have those comforts for our cows along with soakers, misters and fans! Nonetheless, now as an adult and caretaker of these favored female bovines I worry. We are continually checking to make sure these cooling devices are working and doing their job. We make sure they are eating enough and the food is fresh. We watch their troughs to make sure the water is cool and plentiful.

In the summer we also plant corn. We grow corn to feed our cows along with wheat and alfalfa. I worry about the Central Valley and it’s water availability. There is so much “politics” in the water issue. They only ones who truly suffer is us the farmers, our animals and crops and you the consumer. Water is so important to this Valley and our food supply. Let us never take this for granted. Don’t let big politics lead you to believe it is about saving non-indigenous species. It is about big business, big money that hides behind “heart-strings” for their personal profits and agendas.

I worry about my cows and the crops I grow for them. I pray for water to keep my cows cool and thirst away. I pay that we have enough water to grow our crops and have a plentiful harvest.

Care free summer days for me are gone…but I do thank God for all of the blessings and comforts that my “girls” have. I am grateful for everything that they provide for our family and giving them the very best is the least we can do!

Read Full Post »

My dear readers I want to apologize at my blunder regarding our very complicated / very confusing pricing system that dairy farmers have to deal with.

In my angst, hurt, frustration, tears, and disgust I made a mistake in my previous blog post. 

Instead of receiving the token .25 cents per 100 gallons of milk for 3 months. It should be .25 cents per 100 weight (CWT). 100 CWT is 11.6 gallons. (This correction does not minimize the slap that CDFA gave to California dairy farmers, by awarding their slight token of appeasement) but I did want to be clear to my readers whom I hold so dear.

Again, my apologies. It is clear that I am not a professional writer. Though, there is no doubt that this blog comes from my heart and all of the emotions it holds.

Sorry for the confusion.  

Barbara Martin / Dairy Goddess

Read Full Post »

Well yesterday we received the decision regarding the emergency CDFA hearing that was held on 12/21/12 (note, on the day of the hearing, Secretary Ross was not even there, while the room was filled with hard working dairy farmers that left their farms at 3 am to make their importance of this issue known. She obviously had more important things to do on that Friday before Christmas).

We went there, pleading that California dairy farmers receive some much needed relief. We, dairy farmers in California receive $2.00 per 100 gallons of milk less than the rest of the nation. We have the highest regulations and costs. In a nutshell it costs us more to feed our animals than what we are getting paid. (We can all thank corn being produced and mandated for Ethanol (thank them also for your higher grocery bill). This corn to ethanol is a joke and more political corruption. It is not efficient, but too many wealthy, very powerful lobbying has corrupted their mindset and throw common sense out the door. 

The CDFA has it’s own cost of production costs that show this and is officially reported and published.

The cheese-makers here in California cry they will not survive if we are given any such relief. It cost them too much money to deal with their whey (the left over after cheese is made). It is a known fact that most of the cheese-makers in CA are making record profits that includes processing that valuable whey protein. They stand behind the couple that do not process it and say if they pay more they will be in dire straights. Their greed eventually will bite them as if things don’t change they will have to fight for what milk might be left in this state. They are worried about paying now? Wait till there is not enough dairies to provide milk to go around. 

The frustrating part of this is that all of the other states cheese-makers are managing and profiting. I believe, ever stronger, that we need to dump our state system and join the Federal Order. It might not be any better, but it could not get much worse. Besides I would no longer be part of this greedy, regulated, state system that can not even read their own data that shows that dairies are closing weekly. Four hundred dairy families gone. It is obvious CDFA can care less. So why stay in such a system that favors only one side. At least we would be on the same playing field as the dairy farmers in the nation.

The cheese-makers have some sick-corrupt control over the CDFA. It is a dark and demented cloud. They do not appreciate the valuable economic impact we have provided and treat us as an uneducated pebble in their shoe. They believe they are saving us from ourselves and protecting us from our habitual over production.  

So, in a nutshell (rounding it off)…we asked for $1.00 per hundred gallons of milk extra from the processors for 6 months of relief. We received .25cents per hundred gallons of milk for 3 months.

A true slap in our face and more proof of this unhealthy alliance between the state and processors. Though, I hope the CDFA doesn’t think that they “won” (they do have more points) but please know we have only just begun. You are dealing with a new generation of dairy farmers.

I no longer support this “TASK FARCE” trying to get producers and processors on the same page. This here proves they can not even agree to give us temporary relief when we need it the most. They see that we are short on milk. What makes us think they will work with us ever if they go against us now?

We need to demand change and continue to fight for what is right and FAIR! We need our co-ops to stand together with us and start taking control.


CDFA announces temporary 25 cent hike for four months

The CDFA today released its much anticipated announcement on the Dec. 21, 2012 milk pricing hearing, saying it would temporarily increase Class 1,2,3, 4a and 4b prices by approximately $0.251/cwt for the period of Feb. 1 to May 31, 2013. The announcement by Candace gates, chief of the Dairy Marketing Branch, provided these details:
•    Increasing the Class 1 price approximately $0.05/cwt by adding:• $0.0006 per pound to the milk fat price.• $0.0045 per pound to the milk solids-not-fat price. • $0.0001 per pound to the milk fluid carrier price.
•    Increasing the Class 2 and 3 prices approximately $0.10/cwt by adding:• $0.0082 per pound to both the milk fat and milk solids-not-fat prices
•    Increasing the Class 4a and 4b prices approximately $0.30/cwt by adding:• $0.0246 per pound to both the milk fat and milk solids-not-fat prices.

The Hearing Determinations, Panel Report, Stabilization Plans and a more detailed explanation of the department’s decision can be found on the Dairy Marketing website www.cdfa.ca.gov/dairy  by clicking on the Hearing Matrix. Jan. 22, 2013 CDFA Notice 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Standing Up For Dairy Farmers!

Hundreds of California Dairy farmers united yesterday 9/13/12 and headed to the state capitol in Sacramento to be heard. Some took buses, others carpooled and even more made the trek alone.  Click here for the video of the speakers from yesterdays rally.

September 4th a lawsuit was filed against the CDFA . We dairy farmers have asked three times for a fair price for our milk. Three times we have been denied. Secretary Ross is not following  the law. The law is very clear, “the price announced by CDFA must be in reasonable alignment with prices paid for comparable milk produced and sold around the country”. This law has not been followed. California dairy farmers have continued to be paid $2.00 per hundred weight less for our milk than our neighboring states. That is 20 million dollars we have been robbed.

We are not asking for a bail out. We are not asking that this be paid by the tax payers. We do not want the price of dairy products to go up in the stores. We ONLY want our fair share.

What is fair and balanced about the processors making record profits and dairy farmers losing thousands upon thousands of dollars every month.

Three hundred dairy families are already gone. Another 100 dairy families are to exit. This is a crisis! In any other industry it would have been deemed so.

I wanted to be part of this historic moment. It started by two dairy farmers, Jim Wilson and Gary Van Ryn having dinner with their families and feeling frustrated and tired they decided that they needed to do something about it. They contacted Kevin Kruse from Western Milling and together they got the ball rolling. I immediately jumped on board for this effort. We have laid down too long.  I mean, If I am going out I am going standing tall with my boots on. I, like the rest of us there have had enough.

I have been disgusted with our leadership that is suppose to be representing us and have failed. I mean they throw out words say they are doing their best. They plan informational meetings to see what will be the best course of action. They remind us at every meeting that things are bound to get better…. Blah Blah Blah

Western United Dairymen, our largest dairy organization that exists because of the dues that dairy farmers pay was not there yesterday. Our co-ops like California Dairy Inc, Land O’Lakes, Hilmar Cheese, and DFA were not there. Why you ask??? I will tell you why. They are worried about “upsetting” Secretary Ross. They do not want to ruin their “great” relationship. They don’t want to lose the “great” communication that they have with the Secretary and CDFA. Really?? We have been nothing but denied any request that we have made. This is politics. This is our business and lives that they are dealing with. This isn’t about a popularity contest. It’s not about who she “likes” the most. She is a public servant. It is her job not to make decisions based on who she likes the most. This isn’t personal. This isn’t about giving the teacher an apple for a better grade. It is about the law and our rights. It is about what is fair!

What was confirmed to me yesterday was who it was truly looking out for the dairy farmers and that, was in majority, US! The dairy farmers standing together united! We did have political support with David Valadao and a few more public officers. We did have Milk Producers Council there and we had California Dairy Campaign too. This showed me finally what I have felt for a very long time that Western “United” Dairymen is not very united. Their directors should have been formally informed by their CEO of this protest and they should have tried to have been there even if they did not want to make a statement. As for the co-ops they say they have to keep an even balance between the processor and farmer. Their absence shows me who they really stand for, and it wasn’t for us. Upon this paragraph I feel that this quote I found this morning is most appropriate:

“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” 
― William Lloyd Garrison

We know that yesterdays rally was not going to bring immediate change.  We know that it is just the start. What I do know is that we stood together, bonded, sharing our fears for our future, and felt strength within our numbers. We stood together in pride of what we do and in our faith of God to give us continued strength.

We are meeting again next week to decide on out next step. So stay tuned…We have only just begun!

Read Full Post »

I received this comment on my blog. I was so moved.

I, too feel that there is no one to help, there is nobody in our court. Our industry is ran like the rest of the country. Big money, and personal interest. Each man for themselves. We try to have voices, but those are only heard when you have lots money and you are able to make yourself heard. I know what it is  to feel like no one is listening. My blog is my little tiny voice. It is all I got!

I appreciate that she shared this story with me. I wanted to share it with you.

Hi dairygoddess…I have a question. The dairies in our area are closing. Our friends are generational dairymen, they have lost their home and had a 3k head of cow dairy, now down to 80 cows. They have 34 people who are invested and stand to lose everything. the feed company has raised feed so high they cannot keep up. NOw they are in negotiations and the feed company are holding them over a barrel. Can nothing be done, are there no gov. bale out of a dairy? they sell their milk to Alta Dena who has been supportive but cannot feed the cows. What can we do, to get oats in those cows to produce? Help if you can. (I kept her name private)

This is sadly a story that is told by many dairy farms. We are too, struggling. These next 90 days are reported to be another terrible period for dairy farms. Not only dairies suffer but the companies that service them. There is NO bail out for us, none at all. We dairy men are controlled by people looking out for themselves.
Processors LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cheap milk. They pit dairy farmer against each other so that we can not create tools to help ourselves. They just know that at some point we will end up making too much milk again and drown ourselves and our industry.

California alone is at a terrible injustice. We receive less than anyone else in the nation. Why? I have asked myself this so many times. We ask for hearings through the California Department of Agriculture, yet they are denied. Don’t they see our dairy farms struggling? Yet the processors complain that they will lose. Processors have a make allowance, an allowance that we pay to help them make a profit.

What about us? We just want to receive enough to just feed our cows. Is that asking too much? Do we not deserve enough to make a profit too? We work and have the risk. We do not have any control of the price we are going to receive. We watch our milk get hauled off (we, the dairy farmer pays for that too). Imagine, we pay for the haul to the processor while they have all of the power to raise/lower prices. Yet, we do not see huge drops in the store for dairy products…hmmm interesting isn’t? The minute the milk price goes up for us you see that in the store real quick.

We do not even know how much we are going to get for that milk that we worked so hard to make until a month later.

They have the power to NOT process if they have too much. Of course they have contracts to take all of our milk. Look, though what happens when there is too much…price drops and we are in the RED yet again. We can not just close our doors when we are not making enough money. We have an obligation to our animals. They must be cared for and fed. They must be milked.

We all must work together. Contact you local officials. Scream and shout and start asking the questions.
Get involved in the co-op and industry groups. WE and us alone have to start speaking for ourselves and working for ourselves and NOT let those with their own interests at heart win.

You asked about bail outs…I don’t think any of us want anything for free. I know, I just want a level playing field. Sadly if we do not get this help the American people can rely on non-local and imported milk because of possible milk shortages if too many dairies can not survive. At best the low prices consumers pay for dairy products will be gone for ever. For many our LUCK would have given out.

Praying for us all. The pressure is enormous. We can go without, sacrifice, but our cows MUST be fed and taken care of. When we lose that availability it is heartbreaking.

God help us all!

Read Full Post »

Call for Action!

Cal Poly Cows Preparing for "History Channel" Shoot

Cal Poly Cows Preparing for "History Channel" Shoot

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is considering reducing the beautiful herd that is a mixture of fine Holsteins and Jerseys from 150 to 30. My disappointment at the decision to reduce the dairy herd to 30 cows is almost beyond words. It is far beyond the nostalgia of being a parent of a student. It is knowing the importance of the researched technology and responsible animal handling procedures. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is responsive to the needs of a growing population. It is also a fine example of modern dairy that exemplifies the humane treatment of animals. Cal Poly is a shining example of animal agriculture that should not be looked at lightly and is perfect to promote and used as an example of a modern dairy.

My son AJ and friend Jared working at Cal Poly Dairy! "Learn by Doing" motto in Jeopardy!

My son AJ and friend Jared working at Cal Poly Dairy! "Learn by Doing" motto in Jeopardy!


More and more of the population is growing completely out of touch with where their food comes from. In allowing groups like PETA, HSUS, and Michael Pollan who have their agendas in removing animal agriculture and their attempt of creating a vegan world by half truths, myths, and opinions. They have put, effectively a black mark on our industry. Cal Poly has the ability to respond to those allegations. These groups speak from the mountain tops and we, as an industry, have allowed this. We have considered them often to be radicals and to be discredited. Unfortunately as populations grow and farms fade away it becomes easy for consumers to believe the negativity when they do not know anything else.


 Many of us dairy farmers have started to get involved with social media in attempt to put a “face” on the farmer. Cal Poly has the ability to represent in such a larger mass.


Cal Poly Has a State of the Art Processing Facility---Not fully used???

Cal Poly Has a State of the Art Processing Facility---Not fully used???

Cal Poly is the perfect example of “farm to plate”. I have been lucky enough to participate in the cheese making class. The Cal Poly processing facility is outstanding. It is a beautiful dairy at the same location of where quality cheese and ice cream are made fresh with many options for research in other products. It is perfect. Consumers NEED to see this.


I understand all too well the hardship the dairy has and is going through. Never in our three generations have we seen this magnitude of financial devastation and continue to hope and pray to recover. We are now beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Prices are turning, slow but steady. We are short on milk so soon we should be back on tract. Many of the contributors to the program will soon recover and will be back on tract with contributions that I am sure have been missed due to the economic crisis.


We must FIGHT for this! The best of things are worth fighting for.



California Polytechnic State University

 San Luis Obispo, CA 93407



Dr Bruce Golden  bgolden@calpoly.edu

Dr Warren Baker – President  wbaker@calpoly.edu

Read Full Post »

September 29, 2009 

Lady Justice

Lady Justice

To: Members of Congress


My faith in my industry leaders and co-ops is greatly shaken. This is why I muster enough confidence to  write to you on my behalf and for the behalf of the hard working dairy farmers in our nation that have had to endure these difficult times and lay mercifully at the hands of those who are to be representing us and looking out for “best interests”.


I am a third generation dairy farmer married to a third generation dairy farmer. We have experienced highs and lows in the past but now the highs are very short lived and the lows carry on for months and months. Dairy farmers have been in the worst economic situation since the Great Depression. Yet, I sit here today and we are short milk nationwide with the price that we receive still below the cost of production.


Did our leaders not see this coming?  We have just completed retiring many healthy cows because there was too much milk, yet we are now bringing milk from Kansas and Oklahoma to California. That doesn’t make any sense!


We do know that Kraft and Dean Foods both recorded record profits. We also know that retail prices for Cheddar was up 4%, Ice Cream up 5%, American Processed Cheese down 1%, Butter down 14%, Fluid whole milk down 20% (Q-2 2009 vs Q-2 2008). Yet the U.S All-Milk price to farmers down 47%.  


Another injustice is the use of MPC’s in our domestic market. MPC imports are up and our milk price is down! It would make sense that we would restrict MPC’s from being used in our domestic supply. These MPC’s have a direct impact on our price at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange which is a thinly traded market. It would make sense to produce these MPC’s here in the United States.


We have been blessed to have $350 million allocated to help the dairy farmers. I urge you to use some of those funds to put dairy farmers on a level playing field with “Big Food”, co-ops, and processors.


Our milk price has not increase to date due to the “ample” inventory supplies. Dairy futures are driven by the NASS surveys. Only about 800 are required to report. With this reporting there is a two week lag time.


More disturbing to me is that there is NO AUDITING FUNCTION what so ever. Even a slight miscalculation of reporting is an indirect factor on our milk price. I would like to see some of the money allotted to help dairy farmers to go toward the implementation a mandatory auditing function and quite possibly to daily reporting which would add to much needed transparency and improvement of our price discovery.  The Beef/Pork producers have daily reporting with an auditing function that has worked very favorable for their industry.


As in all business, a balanced supply for demand is needed. We already have a faulty price discovery system with inventory reporting that has no accountability. With those factors in place it takes away our ability for necessary triggers that we need to balance our supply with demand. Dairy farmers are in a different situation than most, as we can not just “shut down” and not produce milk at the drop of a hat, as the health and well being of our cows are at stake. I think that many have benefited from this lag and lack of supply triggers.


I am also asking of you all, to help implement a National Supply Management Program. This will enable us to stay in alignment with demand. Highs and lows are inevitable at times but this will be manageable and keep us from devastation. It would put us on a level field. It would put us in a situation of control in our industry and relieve dependence of government assistance and alleviate the need to retire perfectly good and healthy animals to balance supply with demand.


I am asking you to please consider these solutions. Allow us to help ourselves by improving and changing the systems that are now in place. As most can agree, what we have now is failing miserably. It is time for change in our industry!


Thank you for your time and consideration.



Barbara Martin

Tony Martin Dairy

6240 21st Ave

Lemoore CA 93245

Read Full Post »

ST. ALBANS, Vt. — The Justice Department’s top antitrust enforcer told a packed hall of dairy farmers here Saturday that increased concentration in the dairy industry merited a closer look by the department.
“Parts of the dairy industry have experienced extensive consolidation in recent years,” said Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney. As a result, “the potential for an exercise of buyer power has increased.”
Ms. Varney, who heads the Justice Department’s antitrust division, testified at the St. Albans City Hall before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing held by Vermont Sens. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, and Bernard Sanders, an independent.
At issue is whether or not some of the largest players in the dairy industry, including Dean Foods Co. of Dallas, a large milk processor, and Dairy Farmers of America Inc., a Kansas City, Mo., dairy-farmer cooperative, are exercising too much power in the market and causing farmers’ milk prices to be depressed. Mr. Sanders contends that Dean Foods controls up to 80% of the fluid-milk market in some regions of the country.
In a statement, Dean Foods says it buys less than 15% of the nation’s supply of raw fluid milk and 60% of that comes from independents and cooperatives other than Dairy Farmers of America.
“To suggest that we control the raw-milk market, or that we are the cause of low milk prices, makes no sense. For most of the milk we buy, we pay a price that is regulated by USDA, plus premiums,” Dean Foods said. The company said it hasn’t been contacted by the Justice Department regarding this issue.
Dairy Farmers said in a statement that while it is a major player in the industry, its scope and influence are often “inflated and misrepresented.” The cooperative said that in 2008, it marketed 61.2 billion pounds of milk, representing 32% of the total milk marketed in the country.
Dairy farmers nationwide are coping with historically low milk prices after a 36% drop in the past year to the lowest level in three decades. In 2007 and part of 2008, dairy farmers enjoyed high milk prices as a booming global economy boosted demand for milk around the world. Dairy farmers expanded their herds to cash in. Then, with the onset of the recession, demand for milk weakened and dairy farmers were left with an oversupply of milk, which depressed prices.
The dairy farmers that packed the town hall expressed frustration. “These are critically terrible times,” said Kylie Quesnel, 28 years old, a dairy farmer near St. Albans.
“While it is difficult to point to one cause of the dairy farmer’s plight, Dean Foods is posting record-setting profits” while “the prices for dairy farmers are at all-time lows,” Mr. Leahy said.
At the hearing, both senators asked Ms. Varney what type of action the Justice department would be willing to take if regulators found anticompetitive practices in the industry. “There is no doubt that we will prosecute that kind of activity should we find it,” she said.
Write to Lauren Etter at lauren.etter@wsj.com

Read Full Post »