WHEREAS, New Jersey’s dairy industry, anchored by its hard-working dairy farmers, is an important part of the state’s agriculture, contributing not only wholesome, locally produced milk and milk products, but also creating demand for field crops used as feed and for farm equipment sales; and
WHEREAS, severe and protracted depressed market prices for milk, combined with record high input costs, have resulted in severe economic hardship for New Jersey dairy farmers; and
WHEREAS, such continued severe economic hardship will jeopardize the continuance of any dairy industry in the state; and
WHEREAS, the Department has undertaken numerous efforts to help stabilize the economics of the state’s milk industry and has heard frequently from farmers and others in the milk marketing chain that such efforts will be only partially successful without substantial reform to the federal milk marketing order, change that will enhance the viability of dairy farmers and bring a predictable economic model to the rest of the industry; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Congressional Delegation, along with Congressional Delegations throughout the Northeast, could be a major force for change to the federal milk marketing order if they marshaled their forces and worked together as a block of major milk-producing and milk-consuming states.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 95th State Agricultural Convention, gathered in East Brunswick, New Jersey, on February 9, 2010, do hereby strongly urge the New Jersey Congressional Delegation to initiate the process of bringing significant, meaningful change to the federal milk marketing order by working with the Department and representatives of New Jersey’s dairy industry to determine the best approach to effectuating change to the federal order system that will best benefit dairy farmers and bring desperately needed economic stability to New Jersey’s dairy industry.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we strongly urge the New Jersey Congressional Delegation to work with the delegations from surrounding Northeastern states, as well as those in other states and regions of the country interested in bringing stability and viability to the dairy industry nationwide, to propose and pass legislation to reform the federal milk marketing order.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we direct the Department to immediately forward a copy of this resolution to all members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation and to request that those members begin working with the Department toward the goals stated above.
Circumstances in the New Jersey dairy industry for the past several years have become increasing volatile, ranging from the “perfect storm” of high input costs, a 25-year low in milk prices and weather-related losses in 2006 to a short period of higher prices in 2008 and back into extremely low prices throughout 2009.
This volatility has cost the state numerous dairy farms, resulting in an all-time low of just 95 dairy farms existing statewide at the end of 2009. Meanwhile, surrounding states continue to be home to many more dairy farms, which find a ready market in the four major Class 1 processors located in New Jersey, demonstrating that there is close-by demand that could be met by New Jersey dairy farmers.
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.
The Department, in accordance with state law, has held several hearings on the dairy industry over the past five years, resulting in various actions being taken by the Department geared toward helping farmer viability.
These actions have included the implementation of a “fuel adjustment” payment mandated for processors to pay farmers to help cover fuel costs, since farmers must pay the hauling costs to have their milk trucked from the farm to the processor.
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.
Some of these cannot be accomplished at the state level alone, which is why this resolution targets the efforts needed at the federal level.