|DAIRY FARMERS CONDEMN NATIONAL MILK PRODUCERS FEDERATION CEO JERRY KOZAK FOR FAILURE OF VISION AND LEADERSHIP|
|Dairy Farmers Send Letter to NMPF and Congress Decrying Kozak's Radical Deregulation Agenda that Threatens Farmers' Livelihoods.|
Washington D.C. (December 9, 2008) - The Dairy Subcommittee of the National Family Farm Coalition sent a letter today to National Milk Producers Federation CEO Jerry Kozak and the House and Senate Agriculture Committees criticizing Kozak's October 2008 speech. The speech advocated for radical deregulation policies that would eliminate all government dairy programs, allow markets to consolidate and concentrate even more than they are currently and could prove fatal for America's remaining 60,000 dairy farmers.
NFFC Dairy Subcommittee Chairman Paul Rozwadowski, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, said, "The recent meltdown on Wall Street and within our banking industry should have exposed the dangerous fallacy of deregulation and markets running amok, especially when only three or four corporations and cooperatives control the entire dairy market. NMPF has ceased speaking on behalf of the dairy farmer for a very long time now with their pro-globalization, free-trade market extremism that fails to address the roots of the current dairy crisis. Jerry Kozak's latest disastrous ideas would destroy what is left of our dairy farmers at a time when consumers are demanding local, fresh milk and wary of foreign dairy products from the likes of China."
NFFC's letter outlines the severe policy flaws in Kozak's ideas, including gutting the dairy price support program and forcing farmers to rely on private insurance as their "safety net" and condemns NMPF for falsely trying to speak on behalf of dairy producers. Arden Tewksbury, manager of Progressive Agriculture and a Pennsylvania dairy farmer, said, "By refusing to address the issue of a true cost of production formula for dairy farmers, Kozak's vision should expose once and for all that NMPF does not care about the majority of dairy farmers, but largely the interests of processors and the leadership of dairy cooperatives that have betrayed their dairy members for decades now with their corruption and antitrust abuses."
NFFC's letter points out that Kozak's speech ignored the three core changes that need to be addressed to support a healthy domestic dairy industry:
- A pricing formula that allows dairy farmers to cover their cost of production while eliminating the need for ineffective government subsidy programs such as the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC).
- Cracking down on unchecked antitrust abuses running rampant in the dairy industry due to the collusion of dairy cooperatives and processors.
- Mandatory country-of-origin labeling and upholding food standards to ensure cheap and dangerous dairy ingredients from the likes of China do not displace domestic milk production.
NFFC was one of the few organizations who argued through the Farm Bill debate that America's remaining 60,000 dairy farmers were in a crisis and that urgent changes were needed to ensure their survival. NFFC promoted changes to the dairy pricing system that would have finally addressed a real cost of production formula for farmers, which is at the root of the dairy crisis that has driven down the number of dairy farmers from 131,000 in 1992 to barely 60,000 farmers today. Bryan Wolfe, Ohio Farmers Union vice-president and a dairy farmer said, "Our members of Congress need to know that NMPF is not an advocate for the best interests of dairy farmers and they do not speak for me. We hope this letter shows the depth of opposition to NMPF's agenda from farmers across the country who believe we need better representation in Washington."
For several years NFFC has highlighted the negligent and harmful tactics of National Milk Producers Federation, an organization which bills itself as a representative of dairy farmers. Instead, NMPF has consistently promoted the interests of its corporate affiliates, including Fonterra, Kraft and Monsanto, and those of the dairy cooperatives, such as Dairy Farmers of America (DFA). Recent articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Kansas City Star have exposed the anti-farmer tactics of Dairy Farmers of America, a key NMPF member. DFA has come under fire from the Department of Justice, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and in lawsuits alleging rampant corruption, price-fixing and antitrust abuses.
Loren Lopes, a California dairy farmer, said, "Many dairy farmers
have no idea just how NMPF continually undermines the well-being of
our farmers and the shameful policies they promote, such as including
forward contracting in the Farm Bill despite the objections of many
member groups. The letter we sent to Jerry Kozak and NMPF gives voice
to the frustrations many dairy farmers have had over the years over
allowing NMPF to speak for us in Washington. Every dairy farmer and
consumer interested in having a domestic dairy industry that provides
quality, safe food should be appalled by Kozak's ideas for radical
deregulation policies that will give all the power to corporations
and leave farmers with virtually no bargaining power to assure we
can make a fair living."
ph (202) 543-5675
(c) 2008 National Family Farm Coalition