Dairy farmers hope petitions convince lawmakers to do something before it's too late
TUNKHANNOCK TOWNSHIP, WYOMING COUNTY (WOLF-TV) —
In May, we told you about local dairy farmers struggling to make ends meet.
Now, Arden Tweksbury with Progressive Agriculture is headed to Washington and hopes to get lawmakers to do something.
Tweksbury says dairy farmers are getting paid much less than what it costs to produce milk.
That's why thousands are hoping to convince lawmakers to give them a fair price.
Third generation dairy farmers Ray and Annette Kuzma say lawmakers in Washington need to help out businesses like their own soon or else:
"All dairy farms will be gone. Not even ten years, I'd say two or three years, they'll be all gone,” Ray said.
That's why they were the first to sign a petition generated by Tweksbury.
He's headed to D.C. tomorrow to deliver 1,500 of them to members of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
"...and explain to them why something's got to be done different. You can't continue to go the way you've been going and expect dairy farmers to be around. There's got to be a breaking point some time,” Tweksbury said.
Signers of the petition want the Ag Committee to place a $20-dollar floor price per hundred weight of milk.
Right now, the Kuzma’s say they're getting as low as $13 dollars per hundred weight.
Compare that to a few years ago when they were getting nearly double that.
"When you have the 23 dollar hundred weight, you can actually pay bills. But, when you're getting this low price for so many years, it's a very deep hole to dig out of,” Annette said.
The Kuzma's say with prices so low, they've lost about $100,000 dollars per year over the last three years.
Add that to the day-to-day stress of the job, extremely long hours, and the fact that Annette ran the entire farm for a year while Ray recovered from a health issue.
"At night I would cry. But some night's you were just so damn tired you can't cry,” she said.
That's why they're hopeful Arden and their petitions will get the attention of lawmakers during his visit Wednesday.
It's a last ditch effort of sorts.
"Within five years, those 10,000 dairy farmers I talked about, most of them could be out of business,” Tweksbury said.
If local dairy farmers go out of business, it's likely milk will be shipped from centralized plants from across the country and eventually from around the world.
We reached out to the Senate Agriculture Committee for comment on next steps after the petitions are delivered, but have not heard back.