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Friday, February 12, 2010

Dairy Farmers Are Hurting

NY Times:
The Morning the Milking Was Finished -- He left a note on the front door that warned the reader not to go inside but to call the police. Then he sat down in a chair and killed himself with a single rifle shot to the chest. He left behind a short suicide note scrawled on scratch paper that made reference to his depression over personal and financial issues. He expressed his love for his family but said he was “overwhelmed.”

Farmers live and die mostly in private, doing grueling, sometimes hazardous work, for long hours. But if there’s a face and a place for the quiet catastrophe facing many farmers, particularly dairy farmers still reeling from last year’s disastrous drop in prices, it’s hard to imagine one bleaker than the John Deere tractor pulling Mr. Pierson’s coffin atop a flat-bed truck, the death of one farmer but perhaps a requiem for a way of life as well...

The Daily Mail:
Dairy farmer kills 51 cows and self -- Thursday morning, Copake dairy farmer Dean Pierson went into his barn with a rifle and killed all 51 of his milk cows before turning the gun on himself, ending his own life...

New Details: Man Kills Cows, Then Himself -- Pierson only killed the cows that required frequent milking. His widow says she wants to save the farm so that her husband's work "doesn't go to nothing." ...
Meat Trade News:
USA - Tragedy of farmers suicide -- “The economic situation is one more piece of the puzzle,” said New York Farm Bureau Vice President Eric Ooms, who operates the A. Ooms and Sons dairy farm in Kinderhook with his father and brothers. “My father’s been a farmer his whole life. He said he’s never seen a year like this. It’s a year like no one has ever seen.”

Ooms said on average it costs around $17 to produce 100 pounds, or just under 12 gallons, of milk. In February of 2009 the price of milk dropped below $12 per 100 pounds for the first time since the 1970s. That dismal price persisted for much of the year until government subsidies pushed the price back above $16.

“The economic situation is just a perfect storm,” Ooms continued. “We are, more than we ever anticipated, a part of the global economy.”

Ooms said dairy farmers are hurting across the country and suicides are up according to NYFarmNet, a not-for-profit New York organization which runs a free assistance line for distressed farmers...

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