The drought of 2012 threatens U.S. food security. Much of the corn in the U.S. Corn Belt is withering.
Corn supplies for America's livestock, domestic food industry, ethanol and the global market will fall far short of demand. The 2012 corn yield, irresponsibly estimated by USDA in May at $166 bushel per acre, has been reduced to $123.4. Realistically, feed industry sources estimate the actual yield will be about $105.
The rising prices triggered by this news started an accelerating sell-off of the nation's dairy cows. A massive sell-off will leave the nation short of an adequate supply of dairy products.
USDA estimates operating losses on U.S. farm milk escalated from $4.05 per hundredth weight in January to $8.65 in June. The price of corn has further advanced dramatically since July 1 to an unprecedented $8 per bushel U.S. dairy farms are financially bleeding red ink with no end in sight. A Rabobank analysis last month sees corn prices continuing to rise into mid 2013.
Recently, a 4,000 cow dairy herd was dispersed in Texas because milk prices could not recoup feed costs. Similar stories abound nationwide. This imbalance of excessive feed costs vs. low milk prices is the new national norm: a wholesale liquidation of dairy herds is a logical outcome. To date, the leadership of the nation's dairy co-operatives are sadly lacking in either ideas or action.
Decisive action is needed to prevent a catastrophic loss of dairy cows nationwide. A statute in the current Farm Law, Section 608(c) 18 of the enabling legislation for Federal Milk Orders answers just such a crisis. It requires the Secretary of Agriculture, when petitioned, to hold emergency hearings and, if warranted, adjust the Federal minimum milk price into parity with current prices paid for feed grains.
The stated purpose of 608(c) 18 is to, "... insure a sufficient quantity of pure and wholesome milk, and be in the public interest."
Implementing 608(c) 18 is responsible, strategic national food security policy. It will protect the American public from the threat of future dairy food shortages and consumer price spikes. An adequate base of dairy cows, a national dairy herd, if you will, is in the nation's best food security interest.
Dairy farmers need to contact Secretary Thomas Vilsack, demanding an immediate 608(c) 18 hearing. He needs to act with speed and clarity.
The address is Room 2968-S, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Ave. S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250 or e-mail at: email@example.com
Nate Wilson 5900 Sylvester Rd. Sinclairville, New York 14782 Ph. (716) 962-8488 firstname.lastname@example.org