Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Milk Marketing Board..

Sometimes I get off on a rant, today is one of those days... so if you don't want to hear this - come back tomorrow!! First I am going to explain what the board is suppose to do. It's their job to promote the dairy industry - by organizing events, advertising etc. I have been of the mind set that dairy products promote themselves, just because most people eat cheese and drink milk. However, I do feel that they have a place in the ag industry, but I don't know to what extent they actually help the farmers. I am not trying to make them the bad guy, but I would sure like to know why the feel they need raises at a time like this. Here is the whole story - please read it because maybe I have a jaded point of view because of my profession.




However, here is my thoughts on it....


The way the MMB (Milk Marketing Board) gets paid is that for every 100#'s of milk they get paid $0.10 - pennies I know. Before I get into much more of how they are paid, I should explain how we are paid. Farmers are paid per hundred weight for their milk. They have what is called the 'base price' which is what they are guaranteed to make per 100# of milk sold. Got it so far? Then they are paid 'premiums' based on the quality of milk that is sold for each category the dairy or creamery has. The creamery/dairy is who we sell our milk too. The category's are butterfat, protein, somatic cell count and other solids. There may be one more, but I don't have a slip in front of me so I cant be 100% sure I have all of the categories. However, I have the ones that count. The higher the first two are and the lower that last 2 are decides how much of the premiums you will be paid. The butterfat and protein are good things, the other 2 not good. Other solids is a conglomeration of different 'things' they are looking for and I am not sure what all that entails - its really not bad, but it doesn't help either - its kind of neutral I guess. However, somatic cell count can throw your whole milk check into the gutter so to speak. If its high you are docked your premiums - they still use the milk, but they just don't pay you as much for it AND they haul it in the same truck as the 'better' milk that has a low SCC...stupid huh? On a side note, there is grade A milk and grade B milk - the pay is different but the same milk hauler picks up both..... figure that one out - the milk ALL GOES TOGETHER. Anyway, the SCC needs to be low. What the SCC is, is cells in the cows bag (udder) that protect against infection - they are white blood cells really. The 'theory' is that if there are a high amount of SCC's than there must be an infection or a pending infection - mastitis in the cows udder. If I am honest, I think that the theory may have a foundation but it also is necessary for a cow to have this to fight infections... It's a double edged sword - its a way to control what we are paid - like I said, on this subject I can see both sides. HOWEVER, here we go again with the however's, in my opinion this can be skewed by the creamery. Every time a load of milk is picked up there is a 'test' sample taken by the milk hauler a.k.a. the other milk man not to be confused with MY Milk Man..*snicker* the creamery tests that milk and pays according to THEIR test results. We have the option of testing with a private testing company, but that costs us a little over $1 per cow every time you test and you have to test 2 times per month.... anyway, the creamery has all the cards if you don't test. We figured on testing at one time, but when we figured out the cost of testing with a private company, it would eat into anything that we made on our premiums if not all of it. SO, they have you by the short hairs. They can get test samples mixed up and have! In my opinion - MY OPINION ONLY -but I know others share this opinion.... the creamery will 'switch' tests with bigger dairies so that their cell count is lower and ours is higher... why you ask, because its much easier to pull up a semi-tanker to a huge dairy than it is to send out 3 drivers on separate routes to pick up the smaller farmers milk. However, big dairies will milk anything with tits....and 4 legs of course. *snicker* The creamery will 'work with' a bigger dairy for the simple fact that they make more milk - not because its better milk, its all about the volume and cheaper. Keep the big dairy happy and they stay with our creamery - make the big dairy do a better job I say - have better animal management... but when your running 600 head of cattle, IT CANT BE DONE! Do I think that 200 head is manageable, probably if done well - but more than that and the animals and milk quality suffer....SO - this got out of hand for gosh sake...sorry to be such a downer... Does everyone understand how we are paid now? No? Me neither...LOL

SO on to the MMB - they are paid with what is called a 'check-off'. All farmers, regardless of type pay some sort of a 'check off ' to the various 'boards' that advertise/promote the type of farm they run. Ours is $.10 per hundred and this is the point I am getting at through all of this. The current check off price was set up in 1984 - when milk was selling for base price of $13.14... Base price on our current milk check is $12.30... stunning huh - sure it has not went up when milk prices were high either, BUT - how ridiculous to give themselves raises now? One of the members of the board stated that with inflation the check off should be at $1.85 per hundred...ok, I understand that but then milk should always being going up too - right? We are getting less than we were 25 YEARS AGO PEOPLE!!!! With our expenses on some things being tripled!!! Please go and read that article that I posted the link too - and ask me questions about it would you? I don't want to write much more, but will answer your questions. The article was well written, but in my opinion the people on that MMB are out of touch with small farmers, but that should not surprise me should it. Oh btw, we have no choice about being part of that organization - if you produce milk you are FORCED to pay the checkoffs regardless if you agree or want to be associated with it. They gave themselves raises with 'uncommitted money', what the heck is that??? Should that not be put away if it's not NEEDED!!! They have a budget increase of $400,000 and a quarter or almost a quarter $119,000.00 is going for raises, but not ALL employees are getting raises, so that $ is going to a FEW of them.. HOLY CRAP already... I bet the ones at the top are the ones getting the raises - and as far as the position that was cut, I am pretty sure it was a part time one.... anyway, go read it will ya - I will feel better if someone else can give me their opinion/view on it.. Thanks guys for letting me get that off my chest! Here's a gratuitous Milk Dud photo....


Thats for you Karen and Goat Girl - I sniffed him too... LOL

15 comments:

Heide said...

Thank you for the adorable photo of MD. Do you have blue eyes too? It looks like one of your older boys has green eyes and another also has blue.

Yes, I'm avoiding discussing the bulk of your post for fear of suffering a brain aneurysm. My parents lost 40 years of savings due to mismanagement by the people hired at Ocean Spray (co-op for cranberry farmers who basically have a monopoly). They will never be able to retire. Ever. At least they haven't lost their farm, some of their neighbors have. When business people get involved it's always the farmer who gets screwed. Sorry, blood pressure rising. Good luck m'dear.

Heide said...

Obviously my attempts at self-diversion failed. Sorry for the rant.

Willow Witch said...

MD is growing leaps and bounds, look at that hair, awwww shucks, he is just too cute...

COFFEE MAN said...

I agree that the idea is ludicris , no "board" should be allowed to vote on own raises , milk board , town council , senate , etc: i did some quick math , if its spread evenly "lol" uhh huh , thats 2,016 raise , which is not completely nuts , however thats still an average 70,000.00 a yr job pay , how many in the area ar making 70,000.00 a yr . thats the problem with this kind of situation. should there be raises in this kind of economy NO , if they cared about actually doiing there jobs better , they would be looking at ways to INCREASE MILK PRODUCERS WAGES !!yes the amount should be put back into the milk producers pocket . This just proves that simple fact , man will dominate man to his own injury !

Heidi said...

If that $$ were spread out among the 59 employees -its not - its only going to a few of them and the director would NOT SAY WHO OR HOW MANY!!!

Big Hair Envy said...

Personally, I don't think it's fiscally responsible for ANYONE to receive a raise in this economy. Our employees are SO thankful we haven't been forced to lay them off (as are we), that they don't mind working reduced hours at last year's pay. For each employee we have, there are 20 others who would just be happy to be employed.

We have seen many small local businesses go bankrupt in the past three months. It's especially disheartening when we see these large conglomerates tossing money around as if it grows on trees.

Things will eventually turn around, but for now we ALL need to tighten the belt.

**stepping down off of soap box**

Barb and Steve said...

This really bothers me too. Small farmers are the backbone of this nation. The big corporations are taking over with no regard to putting people out of business not the quality of milk produced. You are probably right about them switching the tests to favor the big dairies. I will post a link to your blog on mine later since a factory dairy farm with 3200 head is coming to our neighborhood.
Barb

Gail said...

I have not read the article yet, but it sounds all to familiar, raise the prices and drive out the small farmer, it is all about big corporations, big business. They are the ones that can grab a congress person and get them to pass this stuff. I see it happening now to produce farmers. It is a crime.
I will read the article later. Is dinner time.

goatgirl said...

I found your rant very interesting. Life gets way to complicated. And I agree with Big Hair Envy, nobody should be giving themselves a raise right now.
Thanks for the MD sniff. He is starting to go from baby to little boy!

Domestic Diva said...

awww!! that baby of yours is adorable :) It has been so cool to get to see him grow up, even though we live so very far apart! I started reading not to long before he was born. Makes me want to go find some photo's of my own kiddo's from around that long ago. It always amazes me how fast they grow!

~ Sara ~ said...

I had to chuckle... *being said sarcasticly* the WHOLE MMB is a joke! But the WMMB... now that is NUTZ!

That guy (sorry I'm to upset to remember his name) at the end of the article... who said we are dealing with 2009 prices on everything as his answer to the pay raise.

WELL DUH! Aren't we farmers having to deal with 2009 prices on EVERYTHING also?!?!?! Except what we are getting paid... that is.

ARGH!!! OK I feel better now!

Minnie said...

I agree with Big Hair- the notion that anyone would be in a position to argue a raise with unemployment numbers where they are only shows how out of touch said person(s) is/are.

I don't blame you a bit. I'd be livid.

Greenmare said...

you go girl! and what a nice reward for us reading to the end. Milk Dud is getting Big!!

Ye Merrie Quilter said...

Sounds like the farmers need to get together and overthrow the MMB. Maybe there's also an opportunity for a truck driver to start collecting milk from all the "small" farmers and selling it in bulk to the buyers, like a co-op. All the farmers get a cut of the proceeds per hundred weight.
If I were the Dairy Queen, anyway... :)
Karen

~annie said...

Found you through Walter from Sugar Mountain Farm. This Milk Money Math boggles the mind!