The Missouri Dairy Association (MDA) addressed the challenges facing dairy farmers in Missouri and its impact on the industry before a diverse group of representatives from the Missouri Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food Production, and Outdoor Resources, the House Committee on Emerging Agri-Business, the House Committee on Agriculture Policy and the House Committee on Agri-Business.
"Declining local Missouri milk production, the raw product for our processing plants, means more imported milk from other states and the loss of economic activity in Missouri," says Larry Purdom, MDA president and a dairy farmer from Purdy.
"I'm 70 years old so this isn't about me. I'm concerned for our consumers and for the young people who want the opportunity to dairy in Missouri.
"We estimate 60% of our milk is imported which makes us very concerned about the future of dairy processing in Missouri. Locally produced milk is more economical for the plants, which makes it even more imperative that Missouri maintain a local milk supply.
What's at risk?
"It all begins with the cow and the dairy farmer.
"Thousands of jobs on the farm and in the plants, and the resulting economic activity for the state, are at risk.
"We would hope the General Assembly realizes this and looks at every avenue available to help Missouri's dairy farmers," says Purdom.
"Drought assistance to reseed and fertilize pastures, a tax credit based on the amount of milk produced and sold, and a dairy economic development fund were some of the ideas we submitted for consideration.
"Last summer's drought had a devastating effect on our available feed supply coupled with rising feed costs has made it an impossible situation for Missouri's dairy farmers. That situation continues to play out today with dairies selling out that will never return to productivity," says Purdom.
"This wasn't our first time to sound alarm," says MDA Executive Director Dave Drennan. "MDA has been telling everybody who will listen for years that the future of dairy in Missouri is in limbo.
"A bill was introduced two years ago for support which passed the Missouri House but was never debated in the Senate so it died.
"In addition, we addressed alternatives with a group of 14 in the Missouri General Assembly just last week including Senators Brian Munzlinger and Mike Parson, Representatives Tony Dugger, Bill Reiboldt, Sue Entlicher, Diane Franklin, Casey Guernsey, Sandy Crawford, Jay Houghton, Craig Redmon, Sonya Anderson, Llye Rowland, Lincoln Hough and Lyndall Fraker," says Drennan.