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November 08, 2010


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Thank you for clarifying this! I actually sit on one of the local check-off boards and also as a dairy farmer some of my check-off dollars go to DMI. I agree that the NYT article is a bit confusing and the headlines that were chosen as it was reposted went for the "taxpayer outrage" strategy. I can already hear the dairy industry focusing on this confusion and not on the fundamental problems in the industry and how farmers and eaters actually fare in the system. We have a system based on the assumption of ever increasing volumes of milk (and all other crops for that matter). This is the issue and family farmers are getting hurt by this oversupply and eaters are getting crappy-food promoted to them to get rid of the surplus. This is the problem. Don't get distracted people, keep watching carefully! Thanks!


don't forget that milk is commodity traded and prices are capped...when you spend $4 a gallon, thta's mark up. As Dairy Farmers, we don't see that money!

Victor Smith

Great follow-up article. I appreciate your level-headedness about the article.


If this money was being spent to help small farmers earn more, I'd feel a lot better about a program to market cheese, even if it were still via fast food. But the reality is checkoff programs really only help large producers, most of whom are companies owned by even larger parent companies. So this idea of Dairy Management marketing dairy in order to help the hard-working family farmer in Vermont or Wisconsin earn a fairer wage is just bogus. Just like with farm subsidies for corn, wheat, soy, etc, the money is given to people who already have money, not the struggling farmers.


Thanks Slloyd for sharing your perspective as a farmer. I appreciate that you highlight that there are real problems with the system. The farm subsidies mentioned by Amelia are a big part of what drives oversupply. US taxpayers actually are subsidizing the milk supply through the Farm Bill and its massive payouts for corn, soy, and other crops but they aren't paying for ad campaigns with Domino's. Dairy farmers are the ones who need to figure out how to fix the checkoff program and taxpayers need to put pressure on their lawmakers for wiser agricultural policies. USDA's programs to promote health and Dairy Managements programs to promote sales are both band aids at the tail end of an ailing food system.


The checkoff programs are from top to bottom government programs. That's not me saying so. That's what the checkoff programs and the U.S. Department of Justice told the Supreme Court in a major 2005 court case regarding the legality of these programs. Many farmers don't want to pay in to these programs, but the federal government requires them to pay. When dissident farmers questioned the legality of this requirement, which forces them to support advertisements they don't want to support, the Supreme Court ruled that the checkoff advertisements are in their entirety "government speech" -- just like any government campaign to smoke less or wear seatbelts. This controversy is not about demonizing cheese or preventing private sector advertisements. It is about the federal government encouraging us to eat more beef, more pork, and more cheese, all at the same time, despite the tension between this message and any reasonable dietary advice.


Thank-you for clarifying information about dairy checkoff. As a third generation Arkansas dairy farmer I am proud of our program.


Quote: "For example, Idaho dairy farmers pay a total of 16 cents per 100 lbs of milk. Of that, 10 cents stays in Idaho to fund a state version of Dairy Management called United Dairymen of Idaho, 1 cent funds the Idaho Dairymen's Association that lobbies for dairy interests, and 5 cents goes to Dairy Management for national programs."

This sounds like a union, with forced membership, forcing everyone to pay a fee to support the interests of a powerful few.

So, the dairy association gets a law passed that requires all dairy producers to pay a fee to promote their interests, while unions that represent the interest of individual people are being dismantled across the country. God bless America!


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