NORTHMORELAND TOWNSHIP, WYOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Ray Kuzma operates the nearly century-old Milky Ray Dairy Farm near Tunkhannock. His livelihood lies with some 200 head of Holstein cattle which produce the raw milk he sells. He recalls a particularly profitable period in the 1970s. “We paid cash for everything. We never borrowed any money. We had enough coming in to build everything up.”
But these days, it’s all hands on deck. Mr. Kuzma and his family see their future threatened by the rising cost of producing raw milk. “There’s no way you can keep going with these prices. No way,” he said.
Mr. Kuzma sells nearly 10,000 pounds of raw milk every other day to Readington Farms in New Jersey. With price points set by the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board, he receives $15 for every 100 pounds of raw milk. That’s a more than eight dollar loss compared to the national cost of milk production. Losing $10,000 or more each month Mr. Kuzma said, “Right now to keep going you dip into your savings if you have any savings and not repairing things and not buying the fertilizer and the lime and everything that you need.”
With no financial relief in sight, Mr. Kuzma and other dairy farmers like him are turning to an old senate bill to breathe new life into their farms. The Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2011 sponsored by Progressive Agriculture Cooperative would change the financial formula for raw milk production. It would set a national average and give family farms like Kuzma’s a fighting chance against national corporate dairy farms.
“We’ve got to price the milk on the dairy farmer’s cost and if we don’t we’re never going to have a steady, stable price for our dairy farmers,” said former dairy farmer and Progressive Agriculture Cooperative Manager Arden Tewksbury of Mehoopany. Mr. Tewksbury urges consumers to call Congress at 202-228-6367 and help save local dairy farms. You can reach Progressive Agriculture Cooperative at 570-833-5776.