On August 6 the Concord Monitor ran a good story by Chelsea Conaboy on the challenges currently facing New Hampshire’s dairies. The gist of the story is this, the process by which prices for bulk milk are set has led to a situation where farmers are receiving less money for their milk than it costs to produce.
It is a sad truth that dairy farmers, and many other farmers as well, are price-takers instead of price-makers. In most industries producers create a product and then charge the retailers or consumers whatever it cost to produce and then their profit on top of that. Dairy farmers however, are forced to accept prices set by someone else, regardless of whether or not it earns them a profit or even covers the costs of production.
I recommend that all of you read the Monitor’s article so that you’ll have a better understanding of what our dairies are facing. Six NH dairies have closed so far and more are likely to follow suit. The one highlight of the article for me was reading our Commissioner of Agriculture, Lorainne Merrill say “What we have seen is a tremendous transfer of wealth, of equity, from dairy farm families to these corporations,” in reference to the increased profits of the Dean Foods corporation at a time when the farmers it buys from are having trouble holding onto their farms.