Ralph Dietrich, Dairy Farmers of Ontario chairman, will visit Michigan on June 13-15 to share his perspective on the Canadian dairy supply management program.
Five forums being held around the state will highlight pros and cons of supply management and address whether elements of the Canadian system could be incorporated into the U.S. dairy industry to balance milk supply and demand.
Dietrich will cover topics such as how new farmers get started in a quota-based system, how processors participate and what impact inventory management has had on Canadian dairy prices.
These events are being organized by the Michigan Farmers Union and are patterned after similar events held across Wisconsin in March. Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darrin Von Ruden and National Farmers Union Vice President Patty Edelburg, both dairy farmers from Wisconsin, will also attend.
“Clearly, the dairy pricing structure we have here in the United States is not serving family farmers well,” says MFU President Bob Thompson, an Isabella County farmer. “These meetings will offer a chance to hear how the Canadian system helps keep dairy prices paid to farmers’ stable, as opposed to the wild swings and crushingly low prices that have been putting U.S. dairy farmers out of business.”
There will be five meetings around Lower Michigan for dairy farmers to attend:
• June 13, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Michigan WORKS, 3270 Wilson St., Marlette
• June 13, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Grant Township Hall, 3022 E Surrey Road, Clare
• June 14, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., AgroLiquid Conference Center, 3055 W. M-21, St Johns
• June 14, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Dorr Township Hall, 4196 18th St., Dorr
• June 15, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Schuler’s Restaurant, 115 S. Eagle St., Marshall
Wisconsin Farmers Union initiated Dairy Together events early in 2018 based on information provided by over 1,000 WFU dairy farmers who spoke of the economic deterioration of the dairy industry. Most respondents were receiving a pay price that was below the cost of production. Many of the farmers who responded were interested in big-picture solutions to improve the economics for their own farm and for future generations.
Farmers expressed concern that the continuing push for very large dairy expansion was undermining market and price stability. Many were interested in learning more about how supply management would work, but were skeptical that a government-administered program is the right way to go. There was clear interest in a farmer-controlled mechanism.
MFU contends that Wisconsin dairy farmers are not isolated in their views. Michigan dairy farmers, and those around the country, continue to struggle year after year and need to find a long-term solution that will provide basic stability and protections for both farmers and processors.
“The stress and difficulty of current dairy economics is considerable, and this pressure is growing,” Thompson says. “This will again be a very difficult year for Michigan farmers.”
Each of the Dairy Together events are free to attend and include a free meal. RSVP to Michigan Farmers Union by calling 989-224-2849 or visiting michiganfarmersunion.org.