Democrat Photo by Rob Potter
FARM FAMILY: The Ackermann family of Kenoza Lake Donna, Alan, Doug and April are one of several farm families in the area being hit hard by the recent increase in milk shipping costs.
Farmers Not Pleased With
Milk Shipping Cost Hike
By Rob Potter and Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY March 7, 2000 -- Announced just last week, local dairy farmers are reeling under the impact of an 80 cents hike in milk shipping charges.
Its happened across the board, said Sullivan County Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator Joe Walsh. Its probably due to an increase in fuel costs, and thats really put a burden on farmers.
Doug Ackermann of Kenoza Lake is one of those farmers.
The shipping cost for Ackermann had been about $230 per month. Now that amount has skyrocketed to over $4,000 a month.
Its just shocking, Doug Ackermann said.
They just automatically took the money out of our check and didnt say anything, added his wife, Donna.
The Ackermanns, who are among the dozen county farmers who ship via Farmland Dairies, noted they were paying 25 cents per hundredweight to ship their milk up until February 17.
Now, that cost is $1.05 per hundredweight.
There has been talk of that figure being lowered to 77 cents per hundredweight, but as Doug Ackermann noted, that amount is still more than we want to pay.
Per gallon, we are only making about 89 cents, he added. They are delivering milk to the store for $1.89, so the middle man is making that dollar. It sure isnt the farmer who is getting rich.
Farmland Dairies could not be reached for comment.
Ackermman said he knows of two farmers one here in Sullivan County and one in neighboring Wayne County, Pennsylvania who are seriously considering selling off their milk cows. Rising equipment costs and low milk prices combined with this latest shipping increase are a terrible combination for farmers, he said.
Were up at 3 a.m. and working until 7 p.m. It would be nice if we could make a little profit off of those hours, Doug Ackermann said.
This is one of the few industries that charges producers to ship the product to consumers, explained Walsh, noting that, in most industries, shipping costs are passed on to the consumer. Farmers are really fit to be tied.
Although only about a dozen county dairy farmers ship their milk via New Jersey-based Farmland, all 50 in-county dairy farmers, said Walsh, have experienced shipping cost increases recently. Other milk shippers which serve the area include Dairylea, Dairy Farmers of America and Marcus Dairies.
For now, Walsh said the 50 county dairy farms are in good shape, though many farmers dont have willing heirs to run the business once they retire or pass away which is far more dangerous to the farms survival, he feels, than pricing increases.
Walsh explained that the milk pricing system has changed of late, making shipping costs more prominent. He predicts that rising milk costs for consumers will help to offset this other increase.
It should turn around in May, Walsh said. I hope it is temporary, or its going to seriously impact all the farms in the county.