December 18, 2017
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Comments for: Pricing, record high costs for feed threaten to sink Maine’s dairy farms

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  • Anonymous

    It is really differcult to fathom, but, really dairy farming died in Maine in the 1930’s. A few have struggled, but one by one, they go out. Maine is really not a farming state.

    • Juniors Farm

      It should be,I worked for the poultry industry back in the day when it was thriving,that was some of the best tasting chicken..Penobscot,Maplewood..,

      • Anonymous

        Oh, I remember, and that was when Waldo County had a true economy, Friday night in Belfast all the people cashing their checks, and all the farms spread around, it was good times, and a cold beer a Bill Lunt’s. I was trying to think of the store across the street from the where the hardware store is now, it sold local produce and stuff, had real good meat. Was it by right??

    • Anonymous

      Horribly narrow-minded and ignorant comment. 

      • Pot – meet kettle.

      • Anonymous

        NO, not really, waldoco1, I wish it was not true, I have seen the farming go, I have seen the manufacturing go, Maine is designated as the retirement and recreaction state for the rich and well to do flattys, we have to face it. They have got every packing plant off the coast, because it got their sailboats dirty, they got most of the manufacturing out of here, I witnessed the closing ofthe last sardine factory in Maine, for no real reason, they say there was not enough herring, but, for one plant?? Well turns out theyneed the herring for bait for lobstermen, the flattys like their lobster.

        • Anonymous

           I hear what you’re saying pattenpond, but stick around, the end of cheap fossil fuels, especially oil, is going to start pushing some of those trends you have correctly identified, back in the other direction. 

          The economics of producing everything far away are going to get much tougher.  That and the very idea of a retirement state will be strained by the fact that an idle, cash-rich retirement is going away for almost everyone.

    • Anonymous

      I hear what you’re saying, but I think that virtually EVERY state is a farm state to one degree or another, even urban ones like New York or Massachusetts.

      The idea that all our food should come from a faraway “farm” state like Iowa is an idea that will go by the wayside as fossil fuels get ever more precious.

  • Anonymous

    Pattenpond, I disagree with your comment.  Why in the world should Mainers drink milk from out of state? 

  • Anonymous

    I would gladly pay more for local milk if it means keeping these farms in business.  We already buy quite a bit of local raw milk at $6/gallon.

  • Anonymous

    Where do we send money to help maine farmers?

  • Juniors Farm

    I have to step in here, Whit Richardson does not have his facts straight, “Typical of media”David Doak has not owned that farm for 30 years,the original owners were the Giggie family,in the late 60s and 70s,The Drummond family bought it out when Ted retired..R.I.P Ted Giggey,You were o.k. man!,I have a lot of respect for the 30 or 50 c0w farmer that tries to make a living in rural Maine…Its not easy.I met David Doak a year ago,while he was farming on the old Giggie farm and makes a go of it.The farm looks nice Dave.,   Skipper… Thing that gets me the most is our milk where I live sells for $1.57 a gallon and its produced in state,not imported….In Az.Look up Safeway Supermarkets for prices.

  • Anonymous

    Contrary to the author’s assertion, there is a dairy farm in Hancock County. The Smith Family Farm is 3 miles down the road from me on MDI. They sell organic raw Jersey milk in stores, at the farm and farmers markets. They also sell cheese, yogurt and the meat from the bull calves which are raised on grass at the farm. It is a small operation reminiscent of the old days when everyone knew their farmer.

    • Scott Harriman

      I was just going to post about them!

       http://mofga.net/MyProfile/tabid/88/asuid/1490/showtab/products/Default.aspx

    • Scott Harriman

      The author also forgot about Gravelwood Farm and Old Ackley Farm, both producing cows’ milk in Blue Hill.

  • Anonymous

    Just like every thing else these days. By the time the suits get done carving up the pie, the guy who actually made the pie, the farmer, is left with a plate of crumbs. Middle men are ruining this country. A farmer’s work is hard enough without having to carry a half dozen suits too. 

    • Anonymous

      By suits I hope you mean the politicians in Washington and the “Greenies”. The price of feedstocks have escalated due to the cost of corn which has been driven up by the demand from ethanol mandates. Ethanol production has increased 10-fold in the past decade and now consumes +40% of corn production. Ethanol mandates require a minimumof 10% annual increases in production for the next several years. If you want to help the dairy farmers get their cost down you have to eliminate the market disruption of those mandates.

      • Anonymous

        I was of course speaking of all the brokers, sales personnel, retailers, corporations, and everyone else who is in between a farmer and the consumer. You used to be able buy milk direct from the farmer. Now, it has to be “handled” a half dozen times before it makes it to the breakfast table. Speaking of “Greenies”, did you know that the dead spot in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi River is over 5,000 square miles now? A dead spot caused by all the nitrogen washing down the river from massive corporate corn farms. As long as there are dim wits who would advocate turning the entire gulf into a giant cesspool to keep the cost of gas down a little, I say go Greenies!

        • Scott Harriman

          I buy raw, organic Jersey milk directly from these folks at the farmers’ market in Brunswick.

          http://swallowtailfarmandcreamery.com/

        • We should be growing corn to feed people not fuel our cars period.  Oh by the way the gulf covers about 580,000 square miles hhhmmm.

          • Anonymous

            I actually worked as a chief engineer on a seismograph ship where we canvased the bottom of the gulf of Mexico looking for oil back in the 70’s. It seemed a lot bigger than that at 2 knots! lol. 

      • Anonymous

        I’m not sure the Greenies have much to do with ethanol. Corn farmers and ethanol producers are probably more responsible than Greenies for ethanol even existing. Given  that more fossil fuels go  into making ethanol than is saved, and the resulting higher price of corn which hurts consumers worldwide, ethanol should be eliminated. It is kept alive only by corporate interests and the politicians who take their money.
          The single word that explains higher corn prices is not speculation. It is ethanol.

        • Anonymous

          We shouldn’t be burning our food supply as fuel, period.

  • Anonymous

    Drink milk, not corn! 
    Our legislature need to act and help these farmers who enable us all stock our refrigerators with delicious milk.

  • Anonymous

    monsonto

  • Is his farm loosing 30k a month or losing?

  • Anonymous

    Maine Agriculture could use the equivalent of charter schools; that is farms which are largely regulatory free and operate within a market economy that isn’t regulated by the government. I’ve been to several USDA grant program roll -outs with regulations that are so complex, a farmer has to hire a consultant to fill out the paperwork at a cost of approx. $1,500…even then the odds are that the farmer won’t get a grant. This is crazy and onerous. I’ve been in meetings where the farmers walked out leaving only the people who ‘advise’ farmers to get energy audits or the coop. extension people or university educators.

    The energy audit racket is a great example.

    You can’t get a grant unless you have an audit done..for a farm these cost thousands of dollars. Then the farmer has to implement the recommendations of the audit….now we’re into hundreds of thousands of dollars of new equipment and operational disruptions. 

    The ‘farm’ advisors sniff their noses at wood fired outdoor boilers, but there are many reasons why dairy farms now have them.

    Time abolish the USDOA and the State bureaucracy since all they do is get in the way of viable sustainable farming, in my opinion. The time for a radical reform of government and UMS programs is now. get block grants for every government ag. program and distributed them as vouchers for he most needed farm improvements. 

    • Anonymous

      We try to stay just as far away from the USDA as it is possible to get in this place. The USDA is the “governmnet shill” for the “corporate food processing business” that smart people are gradually figuring out, and moving away from. More and more people around these parts, are willing to pay a little premium over store prices, to get food products that are produced locally.

      I like Joel Salatin”s books, and “Everything I want to do is illegal” is extremely enlightening and educational.

      We are proud to be a small part of the creative local economy which benefits all of us who live here!

  • Anything government run, mandated or regulated is destined for failure.  Too many differing opinions from too many that are uniformed and basically ignorant.

  • Scott Harriman

    What will it take for these farmers to realize that their businesses cannot be sustainable while being so heavily reliant on imports from far away?

    • Anonymous

       All the farming models that involves feeding lots of grain to animals grown far away, off the farm are going to fail, whether they involve dairy cows in Maine, beef cattle in Kansas, Chickens in the outskirts of Maryland, or hogs in North Carolina.

      Fossil fuels grow most of our country’s grain now and in turn, much of our grain is turned back into substitutes for fossil fuels (ethanol and biodiesel), tightly linking grain and oil prices. 

      Animal farming is going to transition back to growing more feed on the farm and the ones that don’t transition back are going to fail because grain prices aren’t coming down any time soon due to the previous paragraph.

  • Scott Harriman

    Sell directly to your customers.  Get out of the commodity market racket.  Operating with both of your largest inputs (grain and oil) and your only output (milk) as commodities up for speculation in our broken financial “system” is courting disaster.

    Feed cows their natural diet — grass.  Cut out the expensive imported grain and let the cows go to their food (pasture) instead of bringing it to them.  Which leads to…

    Find ways to reduce energy usage, especially fossil fuels.  Pasturing cows instead of cultivating and distributing a grain ration would be a good start.  Laying in hay for the winter would still be necessary, but having cows gather their own food for much of the year would be a big savings.

  • Anonymous

    The common thread in all of this is that you can see “government” meddling in the process and, as always, “picking winners” here and there.   Many Maine dairy farms are carrying way too much debt to be able to sustain a business with the income they have. The penalty for any business being too heavily leveraged, is usually bankruptcy and failure. When government steps in to keep this from happening, it is no longer a situation which helps a businessman balance out at some point between his “wants” and his “needs”.

    The entire situation is ridiculous as a cow is designed to eat grass, not high octane,  very costly, feeds. We have a small hay business, mowing about 200 acres of grass. We feed some of it to our beef cows, some to our horses, and the rest we sell to pay the bills. We sell zero hay to dairy farmers as the dairy farmers don’t use hay, they have to make it into silage, all of which costs much more to make, but is a necessity to keep milk production up.

    I side with those who say go back to being smaller and doing business locally and getting government out of the equation!.  We raise our own beef cattle and feed them only a bit of corn each day, mainly to let them think they are getting a treat  and being able to have them get close to us, often,  which makes handling much easier. Their diet is green grass, with hay fed in the winter. They taste great too. Hi octane feed is NOT required for beef, or dairy cows, unless you are trying to be a participant in the endless “cat chasing his tail”  situation , which nearly all  Maine dairy farmers are playing.

  • Anonymous

    There are some goofy laws with dairy production. I think Governor Melonhead talked about it when his guys were having issues. There is a law about Massachusetts or something…

  • Anonymous

    If western farmers had to pay the real cost for the water that they use, I wonder what the impacts might be?  I suspect that they would use less water and that would make agriculture in the Northeast more competitive. 

    Some crops can only be grown in particular climates, or only grown well in certain soil types, but the Northeast should be a dairy region.  I think it is ridiculous that states with a very small population, located far from large markets, have a large dairy industry.  Idaho and New Mexico come to mind.  Making things worse, these two states are relatively arid.  Depletion of groundwater is an issue in some western states.

    It is a complicated issue.  Many will call to repeal the price supports for Northeast dairy, and I would be OK with that – but if and only if the western farmer doesn’t gain an unfair advantage with subsidized water. 

  • Anonymous

    It is truly a “nation of fools” who take their “food” (corn!) and burn it for motor fuel.

    This is one of the stupidest courses of action the United States has ever taken. And the ones profiting from it the most, are not the corn farmers, but the politically connected ones who profit from all the government subsidies of an ethanol industry that is NOT cost effective, and NOT capable of standing on its own to compete with other sources of energy.  It takes way more energy to make a gallon of ethanol than there is energy in it, so this endeavour is a total loss…….other than to those standing in line to collect the government hand outs!

    “Stupid is as stupid does”………Forrest Gump!

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