Thursday, January 25, 2007

Farmers urge relief on prices

Moon shines over former dairy farm.
This is from the Daily Star an Oneonta paper and the article was written by Amy Ashbridge who writes frequently about farming issues. Here is the link!

By Amy L. Ashbridge
Oneonta Daily Star Staff Writer

Schenevus dairy farmers Doug and Connie Lull have 85 head of cattle.
"We had more," Doug Lull said, explaining that the couple had to sell several head last year. "We didn’t have the feed for them."
Holdridge said they received $14.27 _ in 2006 dollars _ in 1986 for a hundredweight, and now receive $14.21. Although the milk price is essentially the same, Holdridge said, other costs have increased.
Lull said a combination of lower milk prices and higher prices for grain have made it harder for farmers to make a living.
"The price of grain is going to go up higher," Doug Lull said. "Grain prices are not going to come down at all."
Emergency payments from the Milk Income Loss Compact are also three months late, Lull said. That money is $500 a month; Lull said it does make a difference not to have the emergency payment.
Holdridge said his accountant told him that about 92 percent of farmers are losing money; the other 8 percent have only made money because they sold their farms, Holdridge said Sunday.
He said the meeting was an attempt to make politicians see what lower milk prices are doing to farmers.
"If they don’t do something by the spring, there’s going to be quit a few farmers that sell (their farms)," Holdridge said. "Something’s got to change."
Those who went to the meeting included Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, and representatives from various agri-businesses.
Magee is the chairman of the state Assembly Agricultural Committee. He said he had been invited to the meeting and considered it important to be there.
"The upstate economy is agriculture," Magee said. "Farmers spend their money in the community."
He said he learned from Thursday’s meeting and planned to take that knowledge back to Albany to share with his colleagues. Magee said he found out farmers hadn’t been buying new machinery when it broke, but opted instead to try to fix it themselves when possible.
The Senate and Assembly committees are having meetings to get testimony from farmers throughout the next several weeks. Magee said the first meeting is at 10 a.m. today in Albany.
The Holdridges are attending that meeting but will not be testifying.
Other meetings will follow in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and Jamestown; the Syracuse meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.
"Maybe New York state can do something for some temporary relief," Magee said. "The long-term solution to the problem has to involve the federal government and some sort of relief."
Connie Lull said the meeting Thursday accomplished at least one goal.
"We tried," she said. "We can say we tried."


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