Dairy Farmers in Pennsylvania Say They Still Need Some Breathing Room

Dairy farmers are still dealing with tight margins and they’re asking the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to continue the current Class I over-order premium price for milk for another six months, starting January 1st. 

Feed prices are the main issue, due to a combination of local and national issues. This year’s Midwest drought coupled with last year’s weather conditions in Pennsylvania have kept farms operating on tighter margins. 

Mark O’Neill of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau says if the Class I over-order premium for milk stays at $1.95 per hundred   for another six months, consumers shouldn’t notice any difference at the grocery store.  

Dairy farmers are also asking the board to retain the current fuel adjuster premium.

Farmers would Reap Benefits of Vehicle Code Bills

Numerous vehicle code bills, designed to make it easier for farmers to use their equipment on Pennsylvania roads, have cleared the House Agriculture Committee with unanimous votes.  “The discussion on this multitude of transportation subjects has been ongoing for years,” says committee chairman John Maher (R-Allegheny).  “This is an important day of moving forward.” 

Farm equipment considered wide in the past is now standard industry size, according to Pennsylvania Farm Bureau spokesman Mark O’Neill.  “A lot of the vehicle codes that are on the books now are really outdated,” he says.   

One of the major changes would increase daytime width restrictions for farm equipment on Pennsylvania roads from 14.5-feet to 16-feet.  Likewise, the nighttime restriction would increase to 16-feet with the proper safety precautions.  Weight limits and restrictions on miles traveled are also addressed in the legislation.    

O’Neill says all of the would-be changes keep the safety in mind.  “[Farmers] want to be able to use this modern equipment to get into fields, to plant and harvest food, in order to feed people throughout Pennsylvania.” 

Based on this week’s votes it appears lawmakers agree that updates are long overdue.  HB 2371, HB 2372, HB 2373 and HB 2374 now await action on the House floor.

Dairy Farmers Ask to Keep Current Milk Premium in Place

Dairy farmers are still operating on tight margins and they want the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to keep the current over-order premium price in place for another six months.   

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has again urged the board to retain the current Class I (fluid milk) over-order premium price of $2.15 per hundredweight.  The board reviews pricing twice a year and will be making decisions for the six month period that starts July 1st.

 Mark O’Neill, spokesman for the Farm Bureau, says dairy farmers are facing many challenges.  He says they’ve seen milk prices decline, as production costs remain high. Last year’s weather conditions resulted in feed shortages and poor quality feed, which can affect costs and milk yield. Many Pennsylvania dairy farmers grow their own feed.

Keeping the current over order premium price would not change what consumers are paying for milk at the grocery store.

O’Neill adds that income over feed costs dropped by nearly 30% over the past year as the overall milk check fell and the cost of feeding the cows rose. This means profit margins are still tight on dairy farms across the state.

The bureau also asked the board to continue the current fuel adjuster premium. Dairy farmers whose milk is produced, processed and sold in Pennsylvania for Class I use receive an additional premium based on the cost of fuel.

Farm Bureau Asks Milk Marketing Board to Keep Premium in Place

Dairy farmers are asking for some more breathing room.   The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has told the Milk Marketing Board that severe weather has affected crops used to feed dairy cows. 

They want the current over order premium price to stay at $2.15 per hundredweight for the six months starting in January.  Mark O’Neill of the Farm Bureau says they’re also asking the board to maintain the current premium price add on for fuel costs.

 O’Neill says a wet spring, dry summer, then Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee affected the crops used for dairy feed and that’s expected to impact production costs for farmers.   Crops did not get planted on time in some areas.  When the hurricane and flooding hit, some of those crops were damaged and others could not be harvested because of the weather.

O’Neill says even though the price dairy farmers are receiving for milk is pretty good right now, the cost of producing it is at historically high levels. He says the devastating weather has made feed much more expensive and the situation is expected to continue into next year.

O’Neill says a lot of farmers say the weather is the worst they’ve experienced in their lifetime or in three or four decades. He says all of the weather factors have hurt the bottom line of those who produce feed stock to sell on the open market as well as dairy farmers who were trying to produce feed for their own livestock.

If the Milk Marketing Board approves the requests, consumers would see no price change for milk as a result of the action.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Praises Trade Bills Passed By Congress

There was bipartisan support in Congress for legislation to create free trade agreements that could benefit Pennsylvania agriculture.  The bills awaiting the President’s signature would create agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade.

 Mark O’Neill, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, says it’s estimated the agreements could increase Pennsylvania agriculture exports by nearly 55 million a year, while creating nearly 500 new jobs in the industry.

A variety of Pennsylvania farm products could benefit from free trade agreements, including dairy, beef, pork, fruits, vegetables, nuts and processed food products.  O’Neill says the dairy industry could benefit to the tune of 5 million a year. He says there are new opportunities for farmers across the board.

O’Neill says after the year farmers have had with weather problems reducing yields and damaging crops, this could be some very good news. He says once everything is in place, farmers will have to look at their potential for marketing their products in these countries.  He says some farmers already export their products to other countries.

O’Neill says the more opportunities farmers have to get their products out, it makes them more viable.  He says it can also give them the opportunity to expand in the future.  He calls the trade bills a very positive step.

O’Neill says the bills had broad support. He believes many recognized the need to make sure American farmers can continue to grow and prosper, and have opportunities to be competitive worldwide.  He says that’s where the growing market is going to be in the future, getting products across the world.