Sunday, April 23, 2017

May 1 dairy war deadline looms; whither Trump, Walker, et al?

[Updated] May 1, May Day next Monday is in fact a genuine Mayday! for dozens of modestly-sized dairy farmers in Wisconsin and elsewhere who could lose on that day their regular bulk milk buyer because Canada has begun to protect its home-country dairy business and is cutting back on US imports like those the Wisconsin farmers routinely provided.
Trump promised during his Kenosha visit last week that he and "Scott" [Walker] and "Paul" [Ryan] and presumably also Wisconsin-native and White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus who had a seat on Air Force 1 for the Wisconsin junket would hold some great #MAGA [Make America Great Again] meetings and get things straightened out:
"We're going to get together and we're going to call Canada," Trump said. "And we're going to say, 'What happened?' 
But May 1 is getting awfully close and we see no signs that Canada has realized its mistake and wants to get back in line so our purported Great Deal maker-in-Chief can have the kind of NAFTA he wants without Canada getting in the way or receiving anything in return.

This might have been moved along more quickly if we had a US Ambassador to Canada on the job, or at least-partially staffed State Department, Trade Representative and US Department of Agriculture offices and experts in place, but as Trump told us during his nominating convention, he's the only one that can solve our problems so Wisconsin dairy farmers faced with sending their herds to slaughter May 2nd have to put their faith in our self-declared Maximum Leader.

Update: Other Wisconsin processors may step in, but most of nearly 60 Wisconsin dairy farms facing the May 1 cutoff have yet to find a buyer for their milk.

The problem: oversupply.

And I'm not sure what "Scott's" leverage in all this actually is. The last time we heard Walker open his mouth about Canada it was during the Presidential campaign when he tried to out-trump Trump in the wall-building business by yammering on about putting one across Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific shores.

This specific fight aside, I'd noted in a recent posting the contradiction about ramped-up milk production in Wisconsin for which there may be no market and Walker's plan to expand dairies and their output in Wisconsin:

Walker in 2012 began financing a state plan to boost milk production in the state:
Walker hopes to grow Badger State milk production to 30 billion pounds annually by 2020. The effort to do that has been dubbed "30x20" and is part of the Grow Wisconsin Dairy program.
Walker unveiled his proposal in Madison on March 13. He chose the twentieth annual business conference of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) for his announcement.
That plan, of course, principally which benefits his friends in Big Dairy and the environmentally-damaging/pollution-producing/ground-water-sucking/industrial-scale mega feedlots they operate.

I noted an interesting Canadian media piece based on interviews with Wisconsin dairy farmers which I recommend for perspective as May 1 looms and the bigger picture is getting clearer:

'We don't blame you': Wisconsin farmers on Trump's blast at Canada's dairy industry
With a state-wide oversupply of milk, the dairy industry's problems go well beyond a little trade spat

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The US has gone through periods of overproduction, the 1960s had farmers around the nation dumping milk, and the Govt bought millions of lbs of cheese and powder and gave it away on food programs and the industry got rid of the inefficient farmers, fast forward to the 1980s and prices were stable but low, go to the 1990s and prices fell below the 1970s, and the industry got rid of the inefficient farmers again. Move to the early 2000s and prices dropped again because of overproduction, again a round of inefficient farmers left, BUT plants still got bigger demanding more and more milk. Politicians were envious of the California milk machine because they were on top of the pile of cheese. Now a new technology became practical on a large scale, which was to concentrate milk, allowing it to slip into Canada under trade restrictions passed in the 1990's. With Canada having a system that prevents overproduction for local consumption, as compared to the US hell bent for leather system.
During the most recent 15-20 years, there has been a push to milk more cows, with the ultimate goal to manage from the golf course, using a lot of migrant workers here in the US.
Our biggest farmers and dairy plants want to get on the gravy train of TAX CREDITs, ah yes, check out the articles showing just a few millionaires get most of the Credits, including Dairy CAFOs and Dairy plants, saying they will create jobs, forget how many they have pushed out.
Too many articles wail about those who have lost their markets, but forget the part of the story where the Dairy Plant that released 75 patrons, was a partner in at least one CAFO and was in the process of buying another and building yet another. That is where the story really is. The plant creates a phony market and then becomes part of the production cycle.