Letter to the Editor, July 28, 2020
Three generation farm family destroyed by federal policy
My husband’s grandfather came here from Poland in the early 1900s, worked in the mines until he saved enough money to buy land. He had farmed in the old country and wanted to do the same in America. Like the other farmers around, he had a few cows, chickens, pigs, eggs and produce which he sold in town. His son, my husband’s father, took over the farm in the 1950s and built up the dairy herd because it was the best way to make a living on a farm. He worked hard and milk prices were good enough for him to raise a family and meet all of their needs. He saved his money, bought his machinery with cash and never went into debt. He passed his way of doing things on to his son, my husband, who took over the farm in the 1980s. Unfortunately in 1983 an arsonist completely destroyed our barn, but we did not lose any milking cows. At that point, the hard work of this family was already being undermined by the federal government. In the 1970s the Sec. of Agriculture Earl Butz said to farmers, “Get big or get out.” This animosity toward family scale farms has continued to undermine farmers through the pricing of milk. The message of the current Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to farmers is “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out.” This is not just a prediction, it is a plan and a policy. Milk pricing by the federal government is designed to benefit factory farms and the producers and to drive small, family operations out of business. Farms are apparently not one of the small businesses that every administration says they want to support. Should the public care? Only if they are concerned about getting real milk instead of reconstituted milk, if they are concerned about diseases and viruses that are rampant in factory farms and if they understand that our food security is at risk when we depend on imports and big business.
If we’re going to maintain our family farms and price the milk correctly to them, we must get behind the Federal Milk Marketing Act (Specter-Casey bill). We urge everyone to contact our US Senators and members of Congress and urge them to reintroduce this bill while we still have some family farms.