Oberstar Meets with Local Dairy Farmers
“We need a check now, Jim.” The words of Gary Anderson of Pine City. He is one of a roomful of local dairy farmers who packed into the community room at Pine City Hall to discuss the struggling dairy farm industry with Congressman Jim Oberstar.
The meeting centered around how to spark life into an industry where milk prices are plummeting, and coming up with long term solutions that will give farmers hope for the future.
Anderson says more needs to be done in Washington D.C. and at the local level to give farmers a chance to survive.
Anderson says that Milk Income Loss Payments (MILC) need to increase five times what farmers are receiving now. MILC is a program intended to assist farmers when milk prices drop, but Anderson says it isn’t doing enough. Under the program, farmers receive federal payments when the minimum monthly market price for farm milk used for fluid consumption in Boston falls below $16.94 per hundredweight (cwt.).
Debra Kreger of Mora said 15 months ago she and her husband Paul were receiving $5,000-$6,000 a month from their milk check. She said the most recent check was for $600, forcing the family to fall behind on their mortgage payments. Paul Kreger believes the economy will prosper if farmers receiving better pay.
President of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, Kevin Paap, says farmers are facing a severe situation and believes multiple steps are needed to make the needed changes.
Oberstar promised to take the ideas and suggestions discussed at Friday’s meeting back to Washington D.C. He says that the nation needs to do more to protect the farm industry, including increase payments for the MILC program.
One local woman ended the meeting on a light note, asking Oberstar to consider an idea for farmers called “Cash for Cluckers,” a spin off of the “Cash for Clunkers” program.