Dairy farmers in Hungary placed the severed heads of 12 cows in front of the nation’s Agriculture Ministry Thursday as part of what is a worldwide protest against low prices for milk producers. The farmers also dumped milk on the street and were promptly charged with defacing a public space. Farmers in the European Union, as in the rest of the world, are selling milk for considerably less than what it costs to produce.
These kinds of protests and fights are happening all over the world, including Tasmania. Here’s a story from this week about a Pennsylvania family facing low milk prices. Dairy herd buyouts have been held to try to reduce the herd in the U.S. in order to reduce milk supply. “The past year has been the most difficult since I began farming in 1973,” said Paul Toft, a Rice Lake, Wis., dairy farmer and president of the Associated Milk Producers Inc. “Some say these times rival those of the Great Depression.”
What’s bad for the producer on the farm, however, is good for the processor. Dean Foods Co. announced this week that its third quarter net income jumped 32% as the cost of milk declined. The company, the nation’s largest dairy processor, increased its profit estimate for the full year. Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department is looking into claims by U.S. farmers that a lack of competition in the milk market is keeping prices low.