DAIRY INDUSTRY SUSTAINABILITYWHEREAS, circumstances in the New Jersey dairy industry during 2006 created what was called the “perfect storm” wherein high feed, fuel and energy costs, a 25-year low in raw milk prices, and weather-related losses converged, thereby threatening the continued existence of every dairy producer in New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey dairy producers are a critical component in maintaining locally produced, high quality milk for consumption, supporting rural economies, providing tax paying open space, maintaining the aesthetic value of rural New Jersey and maintaining the dairy farming industry in this State, which is beneficial to all of New Jersey’s citizens; and
WHEREAS, on July 6, 7, and 11, 2006, New Jersey dairy producers, through the Gloucester, Salem and Sussex County Boards of Agriculture and the Sussex County Cooperative Milk Producers Association, petitioned the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to hold emergency hearings to address this circumstance and for assistance in weathering this economic storm; and
WHEREAS, following several days of hearings involving extensive testimony and the introduction of voluminous exhibits, the Director of the Division of Marketing and Development issued an order on September 28, 2006 directing all licensed processors and dealers to pay New Jersey producers a fuel adjustment add-on for all milk purchased from a New Jersey producer and directing any licensed processor or dealer who purchases rBST-free milk from a New Jersey producer to pay a $0.76 per hundredweight premium; and
WHEREAS, before the Department could implement the Director’s order, New York Dairy Foods, Inc. appealed the Order to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, which issued an order on December 27, 2006, upholding the fuel adjustment add-on but reversing the rBST-free premium; and
WHEREAS, the proposed premiums established in the Director’s Order have created much discussion in the dairy industry, causing various states within the Northeast to look to New Jersey as a leader, particularly in regards to the rBST-free premium; and
WHEREAS, both the proposed premiums established in the Director’s September 28, 2006 Order are necessary to assist the producers in the short term to help offset the extremely high costs currently plaguing the dairy producer; and
WHEREAS, it is critical that a holistic approach be established to assist New Jersey’s dairy industry utilizing a multi-faceted approach implementing both short-term and long-term industry reforms as was suggested by the Director in his September 28, 2006 Order.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 92nd State Agriculture Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 14, 2007, support the efforts of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to ensure that the dairy industry remains viable and sustainable at all levels of the industry, from the farm to the consumer, through both its long term and short term approaches described in the Director’s September 28, 2006 Order.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Department to continue its evaluation of the appropriateness of the rBST-free premium for New Jersey producers.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Department be a leader on a Statewide and regional basis in providing for reasonable profit and sustainability at all levels of the dairy industry while protecting the consumer economically and by ensuring that they receive a safe, wholesome product.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we direct the Department to work with the Garden State Dairy Alliance to assist in the stabilization and expansion of all levels of the industry from the farm to the table through the accomplishment of the following:
- The Department through the Dairy Alliance should establish benchmarks to improve production output and profitability per cow and/or per farm;
- The Department should identify a funding source(s) for the Milk Quality Program to further the goal of producing some of the highest quality milk in the region;
- The Department should monitor and evaluate the work of the Northeast Dairy Development Initiative and Task Force in order to ensure that a competitive level is maintained for all the New Jersey dairy industry;
- The Department through the Dairy Alliance should establish programs to expand the dairy industry in New Jersey, as well as to establish programs designed to encourage the establishment of new dairy farms, both conventional and value-added, the development of new technology, and the development of new processing techniques and new markets for both conventional and value-added milk and milk products, similar to Pennsylvania’s Incubator Program to encourage future farm expansion and production;
- The Department through the Dairy Alliance should help the dairy industry establish a dominant role in the production of bio-gas as an alternative energy source; and
- The Department should establish through regulation a milk pricing system for the purpose of maintaining a fresh local supply of milk and milk products and to eliminate the volatile market that exists today while protecting the consumer from any form of price gouging.