Panel of Dairy Producers Says Something Has to be Done

Panel of Dairy Producers Says Something Has to be Done

USDA and DOJ pledge to look further into competition in dairy industry.

Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish was among those in attendance for the latest USDA/Department of Justice workshop on competition issues. Friday's workshop in Madison, Wisc. focused on the dairy industry.

Wertish notes farmers are still trying to overcome a long period of low prices. He says producers from large and small dairy operations offered testimony, and all agreed something has to be done or a lot of producers will soon be out of business.

"One of the producers, he gave up the equity he's earned in the last 25 years; he gave that all back in the last year and a half," Wertish said. "So they all pretty much agreed something needs to be done; it's just not sustainable to be losing that kind of money."

But they also admitted the issues are complex and the problems won't be easy to solve and USDA and DOJ officials said they'll be looking further into dairy industry competition.

"Christine Varney made to the comment that it's not necessarily bad to be large, but when you are large it comes with some responsibilities and they'll be looking into that," Wertish said. "Senator Kohl from Wisconsin, he's been a long time dairy supporter, made the comment that when processors have too much power and leverage prices suffer. So I think they're looking at not only the consolidations that we've had of farms but extreme consolidation of processors nationwide."

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