JULY 2, 1959
HYDE PARK—There has always been a great discrepancy between the price received by the farmer for his product and the price paid by the consumer. As far back as I can remember this has been the case, but, instead of improving, the situation seems to grow worse.
I have a letter from the wife of a dairy farmer in Minnesota enclosing some rather interesting facts which Congressman Fred Marshall of Minnesota lately brought to the public's attention. Here, in part, is what Representative Marshall said:
"Five and four-tenths billion dollars were appropriated for stabilization of farm prices and income. Most people assume that farmers get that money... about two-thirds of it does not go to the farmer.
"Twenty-one million dollars goes for meat inspection, a general public health measure. One billion dollars is for commodities sent to other countries, a State Department and Army program. Another Army program of supplemental defense stockpiling uses 129 million dollars. The State Department foreign relations program gets 65 million dollars for the international wheat agreement. Thirty-six million dollars goes into financing military housing in Europe.
"Even in the three billion dollars charged to price supports, less than one-third (989 million dollars) is properly charged to farmers. More than a third of the total is of primary benefit to business, such as 683 million dollars for storage, handling and transportation, 203 million dollars for export charges, 102 million dollars in interest charges, including 48.4 million dollars for Federal Reserve Bank charges.
"Many people would be surprised that farmers get so small a part of the money going into the farm stabilization program. And so far as dairy farmers are concerned, less than one percent of the government's investment in agricultural price supports last year was chargeable to dairy products."
Now to go back to my farmer's wife's letter. She says:
"We receive six cents a quart for grade `A' milk; we pay to have it hauled to the creamery, also pay for the city milk inspector to come out and inspect our barns and milk houses.
"A certain percent is taken out for advertising. It takes a big investment to get started in farming. Machinery is so high and with so little profit a lot of farmers on family-sized farms have to look for work elsewhere.
"The milk is handled many times before the consumer buys it in the store, and each one has to have wages or a profit. So, by the time the consumer buys it, it is hard to know who is worse off—the farmer who gets little or nothing for his product or the consumer who has to pay such high prices."
This is an old, old story. It could be repeated about many food products, but it is particularly hard perhaps on the dairy farmer just now. So, in the hope that those who can do something about this will someday make a real study of how to eliminate some of the middleman's handling, I urge everyone to give some thought to this situation.