June 26, 2009
Advance prompted by severe financial stress on the farmMethuen, Mass. -- The Agri-Mark dairy cooperative has announced that special premium checks were sent this week to each of their dairy farm families for $.30 per hundredweight on all of the milk their farm produced during the month of May. The letter accompanying the check noted that the cooperative was ahead of budget halfway through its fiscal year and the Board of Directors and management recognized the severe, immediate need for cash on member farms. Agri-Mark’s 1,300 Northeast dairy farm families own the cooperative and share in year-end profits based upon the amount of milk they market with the co-op each year. Typically, a payout of profits occurs once the cooperative completes its fiscal year accounting. For 2008, Agri-Mark allocated a payout of $.25 per cwt. on the year’s production or approximately $4,500 for an average farm milking 100 cows. “We are all dairy farmers on our Board of Directors,” says Neal Rea, a dairy farmer from Cambridge, N.Y. , who serves as Agri-Mark’s Chairman of the Board, “so we all know the financial stress our farms are facing. Fortunately, our Cabot and McCadam brands continue to be profitable to the point that we feel comfortable making this payout to members now when we know it is sorely needed.” Rea said that this unprecedented action by Agri-Mark was approved unanimously by the 14-member Board which is comprised of farmers from throughout New England and New York. Each director has been elected by other farmers in their area to represent them on this governing body for the milk marketing cooperative. “Agri-Mark’s highest priority is to work with others in the industry to find a way to end this devastating cycle of milk prices paid to farmers that are far below our costs of production,” says Rea. “We need to find some immediate answers as farm families simply cannot survive this crisis much longer. We are now working with other groups throughout the nation to find a solution we can all agree on and move forward with as soon as possible. Something has to be done or fresh, local milk may be a thing of the past for an increasing number of Northeast consumers.” Rea says that checks to the average farm family for this special premium will be modest, with the average farmer receiving roughly $400 to $500. However, he noted that any income on the farm is welcome. The co-op would have liked to have made an even larger payment to members Rea says, but the co-op’s Board recognizes their duty to keep Agri-Mark financially strong. Rea says the co-op will continue to work to expand its branded sales further in 2009 and explore every national or state opportunity to stabilize farm milk prices at levels above the cost of production for its farmer-members. - 30 – Agri-Mark, with $881 million in 2008 sales, is the premier dairy cooperative in the region, marketing more than 300 million gallons of farm fresh milk each year for 1,300 dairy farm families in New England and New York. The cooperative is headquartered in Methuen, Mass., and has been marketing milk for dairy farmers since 1916. The co-op actively represents the legislative interests of Northeast dairy farm families throughout the region and in Washington, D.C.