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Gene Baur: The best way to help dairy farmers is to get them out of dairy farming

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Rather than perpetuating a dysfunctional system, the best way government can help dairy farmers would be by helping them transition to producing fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other crops that are increasingly in demand.

GENE BAUR: ‘For decades, the federal government has enabled our dairy industry by subsidizing the excess production of cow’s milk even as American consumers drink less of it and we face a glut of 1.4 billion pounds of cheese in storage. Our milk supply is outpacing demand, but dairy farms continue to receive government support, which promotes further wasteful overproduction. Industrial dairies are exploiting tax breaks and other benefits to consolidate their influence, while smaller dairies are in crisis. Many of these smaller farms are going out of business, despite the government subsidies meant to keep them afloat…

The dairy industry is among the most entrenched lobbies in Washington, and it wields undue influence in garnering government funding. It has also benefited from the revolving door between government and big business. Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, a state whose dairy farmers produced 562 million gallons of milk in 2015, and former agriculture secretary, now heads the U.S. Dairy Export Council, which works to maintain agribusiness profits through trade policies and tariffs that promote U.S. dairy exports around the world…

Our nation’s dairy policies are unsustainable, and they are in desperate need of reform. Rather than perpetuating a dysfunctional system, propping up a declining industry predicated on overproduction and wasting billions of dollars every year, the best way for the government to help dairy farmers would be by helping them get out of the dairy business… These farms could transition to producing fruits, vegetables, legumes, mushrooms, nuts, hemp and myriad other crops that are increasingly in demand’. SOURCE…

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