Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Conspiracy Theories

On October 1, 2009 Dairy Herd Management posted an editorial: http://www.dairyherd.com/directories.asp?pgID=725&ed_id=9621&component_id=872 entitled "Conspiracy Theories can get you into trouble."

Essentially, the editor Thomas J. Quaife, has come to the conclusion that there is simply too much milk and no other thoughts on low farm milk price are worthy of discussion.

Not everyone was happy with the editorial. This is an email written to Tom Quaife:

Date: Sunday, October 18, 2009, 8:16 PM

I was very disappointed to read your editorial in the October 2009 publication. I thought this publication was a publication representing the American Dairy Farmer. I was obviously wrong. I am appalled that an Agricultural magazine editor would right such an editorial taunting the dairy farmer for standing up for their right to a fair price for our product and demanding investigations into these unfair practices.

We have been told by politicians that farmer's must unite. Farmer's all over the country are leaving their farms to attend meetings to identify the problems and solutions to this volatile market and are working together across the regions. At the same time, agricultural media is placing wedges between the farmers. Who needs enemies when we have friends like this from our Agricultural media.

Obviously, you are not a dairy farmer trying to survive. Over the last 10 years our market volatility has been unbearable. The U.S. is the dumping ground for the world's surplus at the US farmer's expense. Dean's Foods points out they pay the highest regulated price. I believe it is the MINIMUM price to be paid. We have a federal minimum wage - why is it employer's pay more than the minimum wage. I don't know why the dairy farmer is the only one who only gets the minimum.

I agree with you that the retail end should also be evaluated, but we need to start somewhere. Big Food industry has way too much power in Washington!

May I ask who encouraged you to write this editorial? I'm sure it wasn't the dairy farmer!

If this is how Dairy Herd Management is going to write, I do not need to continue my subscription.


Deb Windecker

Dairy Farmer, NY

Quaife yields no ground and replies:

Yes, I could act like a politician and do the “politically correct” thing and go after the “big bad processors.”

But that would not be providing the truth to the dairy-farm audience that I serve.

The truth of the matter is, low milk prices are a matter of supply and demand, not coercion on the part of processors. Exports declined in the global recession, restaurant business dropped off, etc. And, it didn’t help that we increased milk production as much as we did when prices were high.

I appreciate the fact that you took the time to write to me – and apparently begin a letter-writing campaign. I just hope your energies can be directed toward some things that will really make a difference (e.g., fixing parts of the Federal Milk Marketing Order System or finding ways to control over-supply) rather than chasing straw dogs.


If farm milk prices are a matter of supply and demand, there should be a formula which, with the appropriate data, could be plugged into a computer and totally eliminate the need for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. So far, I have not seen dedicated conventional thinkers propose such a formula.

Most any economics 101 text will have at least some discussion of "market power", which can be summarized as something the American dairy farmers do not have.


  1. have you ever really looked through that magazine. Dairy Herd Mangement is not for the family farms.

  2. I can't remember the last time that rag was worth reading. When it shows up it goes straight into the circular file. I don't need to know how to retain my mexican help because I milk my own cows and feed my own cows and put up my own feed and all the other things that immigrant labor is so useful for. dairy herd management, I guess if all I did was manage it would be useful but as it is, not really.
    Robert Lieb

  3. Thanks for this post. We get so mad at Quaife and so often that we fairly steam. DHM is not farmer oriented at all.

  4. I'm sure Mr. Quaife got a nice pay day from someone to write that article...say IDFA maybe. NMPF maybe. If the same message is said over and over enough times, people will start to believe it. Too bad we all know better.

  5. Thomas Quaife is a perfect example of the sort of moron my little friend at the Post-Journal, Krissy, refers to as "slinkys": "they are not really any good for anything, but its always fun to push them down a flight of stairs!" Don't waste any more of your time on the "editor" of this advertising flyer... his advertisers will put "paid" to him soon enough. Nate Wilson.

  6. I have never subscribed or paid for this magazine, but I do get it. Think about that for a minute. After the article by Mr. Quaife, I started searching and found that their location is a mere 20 minutes away from DFA headquarters. Think about that for a minute.

  7. Funny how "conspiracy" is mentioned in both DFA letters to their members and this magazine. Could this word be used to categorize anyone as a nut who dares question them? Whenever talking points or key words are used over and over, you can thank a PR firm.

  8. So, is this a real magazine or does the content come straight from (DFA's President/CEO) Rick Smith's desk?

  9. It's one thing to want to defend your company, but to label dairy farmers as conspiracy nuts and to give them low milk prices seems to me like a double hit.
    When companies get desperate, they make mistakes. Sounds like DFA is getting worried.
    Bad, bad PR to blame the very people you are taking to the cleaners.

  10. DHM is nothing but one big advertisement.I gave up on that magazine several years ago and would encourage others to do likewise.Then maybe Mr.Quafe would have to get a real job

  11. DFA wants to blame the recession, but are recessions an excuse for writing off bad management decisions and DFA not minding their (our equity) money? Are we, the farmer paying for fines , embezzlement and stupid decisions with low milk prices?

    Conspiracy, recession, or BAD management?
    1)12 million dollar fine...
    2)Unauthorized 1 million dollar payout...Hanman, did he really pay it back? How do we know? Creative bookwork?
    3) Unauthorized $300,000 + payout (Bucky Jones)
    4)Embezzling $595,000.00 (Dairylea)
    5)7-10 million dollar loss from Humboldt Creamery
    6)Anything else that we don't know about yet?

  12. Someone very wise told me recently: "All kinds of folks drive around with an NRA bumper sticker and a gun rack in their truck, but nobody is willing to fight"

    How 'bout it dairy? How many times you gonna let that heifer kick you in the head before you send her to the yard???


  13. I don't know if it was the same editor or not, how long has Tommy baby been around? One of his editorials rather ticked me off way back when (long before computers and websites).

    I wrote in my complaint, and funny thing is... soon after we no longer received the free subscriptions any more... what a pity that was.

    It's nice to know things with that magazine haven't changed, it's good to know I'm not missing out on anything.

  14. Yes, why do we need dairy publications offered in Spanish (DHM does this) in the good ol' US of A? I am telling everyone I know that if you want to raise milk prices, send all the illegals back, because there will be many, many cows going down the road. No farmers around here milk their own cows anymore. And no "local" labor pool, either. I sent this to my senators ((Wisconsin) and didn't get any response. Imagine that. It's all politics and farmers are just gov't employees without the perks.