How Now Maine Cow?

how now maine cow

The Maine Sunday Telegram (and associated newspapers) published a good overview of the present state of Maine’s 307 (currently) dairies this past Sunday. It is NOT a bright or positive story, but it is an honest look at a critical keystone of Maine agriculture and the federal and state programs that control much of what dairy farmers are (or are not) paid.

One fact left out of this excellent article is that Maine now asks the Oxford Casino to help fund its price support program. How sad that we depend on gambling revenue to keep fresh local milk in the grocery stores? We need to wake up and be willing to pay the TRUE price of our food, and stop hiding the true cost, which really hides the value of our hard working and dedicated Maine farmers. And if dairy farming doesn’t make economic sense, we should not be surprised that most young Mainers don’t want to go into that field…

Greek Yogurt Galore

The New York Times reports on the astounding growth of the production of Greek-style yogurt in the US, which has dominated New York State dairy in the last few years, and now is set to take over Idaho as a new Chobani plant opens in Twin Falls. This new plant is expected to serve the entire West Coast to help satisfy our sudden appetite for this thick dairy treat, including in forms never before seen, like tube yogurt, and packaging that includes separated mix-ins.

Meanwhile one of Maine’s dairy processing plants (the Bangor Garelick/Hood plant) is shutting down and Maine dairy farmers continue to struggle to receive a sustainable price under the current federal pricing structure…

Maine Dairy Farms In Trouble

state_seal_smThis is not news, but Maine dairy farmers now stare at a double-set of spinning saw teeth in the form of higher costs of production and shrinking government subsidies. The BDN recently reported on the hearings in Augusta that are taking place to discuss how much the State can continue to afford to prop up the prices paid to dairy farmers given the enormous budget deficits they are charged to with eliminating. I heard all about this at the recent Ag Day at the Legislature, but it seems they’re still no closer to a solution.

Obviously, without Maine milk, there isn’t going to be much of a Maine cheese industry, but the threat goes deeper than that. The remaining 300 dairy farms also support feed dealers, farm equipment dealers, and all other manner of agricultural supply resources in the state. Without a base of dairy farms in the state, these support services won’t be able to stay in business either. In the baldest terms, Maine dairy farms support all Maine agriculture…which means everyone connected with ag in the state are staring at the same spinning saw teeth now.