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National Grange News
National Grange president visits Kutztown, PA - expects no milk price reform soon

By Darrin Youker (Reading Eagle 3/30/10)

  MARCH 30, 2010 --

There's no question that dairy farmers are hurting from sour milk prices.

But those farmers should not look to Washington, D.C., anytime soon for reform in the federal standards on milk pricing.

That was the message that Edward L. Luttrell, president of the National Grange, delivered Monday at the Kutztown Grange in Pennsylvania.

Luttrell is in the midst of a multistate tour, visiting local Granges and learning about the concerns of farmers in communities across the country.

Nationally, the Grange, which focuses on rural affairs, is closely watching developments in the national push to expand broadband service and also is trying to encourage more civic participation, Luttrell said.

But, in many areas of the country, the tough economic situation facing dairy farmers is top on the list of concerns in the agriculture community, Luttrell said.

However, federal lawmakers will not likely tackle reforms in the milk pricing system until the next farm bill, in 2012, he said.

"We don't have any great confidence that change will happen before then," he said. "I would not place bets on it."

Betsy E. Huber, president of the Pennsylvania State Grange, who traveled to Kutztown with Luttrell, said Pennsylvania dairy farmers are hurting because the price they receive for milk does not cover the cost of production.

The Grange supports a reform that would bring the pricing system more in line with what it costs to produce milk, Huber said. Most Pennsylvania dairy farmers lost money last year, and those carrying debt were hit even harder, she said.

Better marketing of milk will help in the short term, Huber said.

"We need to promote drinking milk, particularly in the schools," she said.

Agriculture organizations also need to focus on their common interests: promoting the goods produced by American farmers, Luttrell said. Many Americans have little knowledge of the hard work it takes to produce food, he said.

"We must come together as an industry," Luttrell said. "If we don't cooperate, we will be picked apart state by state and industry by industry."


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