RANDOLPH - Two items highlighted the recent spring dinner meeting of the Steamburg Milk Producers Cooperative in the Randolph Fire Hall.
On the plus side, farmers were overjoyed their cooperative rating was a very high Federal 93, considered to be right up there in farm inspections and quality of milk.
"We must be doing something right," said James Beightol, cooperative president, to the 70 members attending the meeting.
From left are Emily Minor, Chautauqua County Dairy Princess; James Beightol, president of the Steamburg Milk Producers Cooperative; Mark Honey, cooperative accountant; and Tami Risley, Cooperative milk inspector.
P-J?photos by Jack Berger
On the minus side is the low price of milk in relation to the increasing expenses to farm.
"It's as simple as that," said Mark Honey, cooperative accountant.
Honey told The Post-Journal the present $15 per hundredweight is not that bad and many farmers could deal with that if the costs of operation were less, so the balance sheet to operate a farm was balanced. It just does not happen that way, he said, because the price of milk stays the same while machinery and production costs keep soaring leaving the farmer holding the proverbial "feed" bag, so-to-speak. One farmer pointed out his only way to make it was to sell off a few cows and try to get more milk out of the ones left to balance things out.
"This country has not had a milk shortage since World War II," Honey said, adding a shortage could bring more recognition of their problems.
Mark Merrill, vice president of the Bank of Castile, told members there isn't the interest in dairy farming anymore and pointed out that the 5 percent in the old days is now down to 3.5 percent. He predicted the future will be about the same with an even greater challenge. Gordon Smith, the cooperative's negotiator with wholesalers, reported his negotiations with the national Meadowbrook Dairy brought cooperative farmers an increase of 2.5 cents per hundredweight.
Tami Risley, cooperative milk inspector, said the cooperative is a good and solid organization and that sky-high Federal 93 rating proves it has a clean operation and a good product to sell, but it is still a constant "play it by ear" situation.