1980 was a benchmark year for dairy farmers. Most dairy farmers probably voted thinking government was the problem. Dairy farm prices have plummeted since that time. Perhaps government really is the problem now, not because of what government does but, because of what the government doesn’t do – protect dairy farmers from bullies.
In 1980 dairy co-ops handled 77% of the nation’s milk. In 2007 dairy co-ops handled 84.4%. Not only that the number of co-ops have fallen dramatically. We now are in the era of the bully co-op that cannot or will not deliver a decent milk price to farmers.
Number of co-ops 1980 vs 2007 %
Bulk raw milk 38.6%
Nonfat dry milk 29.2%
Natural cheese2 19.7%
Cottage cheese 14.3%
Packaged fluid milk products 21.7%
Ice cream 15.8%
There are some good co-ops. There are some co-ops with transparency, but, the mega co-ops are as opaque as a block wall.
Most people think the Capper Volstead Act is the over-arching law governing co-ops. In fact the bulk of cooperative law is state law.
We should have, on a state by state basis, laws, sunshine laws which make larger corporation transparent, apply to larger cooperatives.