From elections to the Farm Bill: Not all 2018 dairy challenges are on the farm
By Darren Turley, TAD Executive Director
The Texas dairy farmer today is as impressive as ever. I continue to hear numbers that show how far the industry has come and how professional the current operations are. Farmers are averaging 100,000 somatic cell counts for a year, lower and lower cull rates, increasing breeding efficiency and new production heights.
Farmers today are consistently managing their operations to produce the highest quality milk and healthiest animals every day. I could not help but think of the comparison of the New England Patriots and their coach Bill Belichick’s ability to continue to improve and maintain a consistent level of the highest performance to managing a Texas dairy farm – always pushing and striving to be better and, along the way, accomplishing new goals in the unrelenting pursuit of incredible productivity.
The average person has no idea of all of the efforts undertaken and all of the areas managed every day by today’s dairy farmers.
It is a new year and it is going to be a year of low margins. Another year that farmers will be forced to become more efficient. The Texas Association of Dairymen staff has discussed the Farm Bill and the possible changes to the Dairy Margin Protection Program. This program has not been beneficial for dairy farmers, and most western farmers do not have much hope for the program going forward. Upper Midwest and New England farmers have complained extensively to congressmen such as Rep. Collin Peterson, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, about the need for assistance. They have complained enough that there has been some discussion on changes that could give a small farmer an unfair advantage. TAD board members and staff have continually stated that any change that is not uniform to all dairy farmers is not acceptable.
We consistently hear that dairy will see some help in the new Farm Bill, so continue to let the Texans who sit on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee (Chairman Mike Conaway, Jodey Arrington and Filemon Vela) know how the program could be changed to better help your farm.
Washington legislators are not the only ones who need to hear from you. Your Texas legislators are out in their districts campaigning. They could use your support and also to hear from you about the needs of your dairy. We encourage you to take a little of your time and meet your legislators.
The Texas Association of Dairymen works to support many of our legislators, such as Ken King from Canadian, who have been a friend to the dairy industry. It is so much easier to work with legislators who have a connection to a dairy in their own district.