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Spilled Milk Dairy Farmers Dump Product To Protest Plummeting Prices

Thu., Jan. 23, 1997

Dairy farmers across the country say they’re hurting from a steep drop in milk prices.

To protest the plummeting prices, thousands of farmers dumped their milk or gave it to charity in a one-day dairy strike, organizers said.

Farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri, Texas, California and New Mexico took part in Wednesday’s action, organizer Darin Von Rudin said.

“We aren’t trying to punish the public,” Von Rudin said. “We are trying to send a message to milk processors that we can’t continue to live on what they pay us.”

But other farm organizations said the demonstration could backfire.

“Farmers remember negative backlash from milk dumpings and strikes in the 1960s and 1970s,” said Tom Thieding, spokesman for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

The strike was intended to draw attention to plummeting milk prices that some farmers claim are putting them out of business.

The price that farmers are paid for their milk has declined from more than $15 per 100 pounds (about 12 gallons) in September to $11.30 per 100 pounds at the end of December.

Farmers, lawmakers and others blame the federal government’s use of the National Cheese Exchange in Green Bay to set milk prices. They say that Kraft Foods Inc., the nation’s largest buyer of bulk cheese, manipulated the small cheese market to drive down cheese prices.

Kraft and the exchange have denied the allegations, and federal investigators last summer found no proof of the company manipulating the market to set prices.



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