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Desire in early November for another wave of dairy farmer action morphed into strategizing among dairy farmers from all regions of the nation for a “Dairy Does D.C.” day.

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Since the dramatic drop in milk prices in 2009, many groups have come up with proposed programs that would control the speed of expansion and possibly limit the amount of milk produced in the U.S. dairy industry. One plan that has been widely discussed would assess a fee to a dairy if its milk production exceeds 2 to 3 percent growth. The real debate is over how much of the milk should be “taxed” – all the milk produced on the dairy or just the milk that exceeds the 2 to 3 percent of allowable growth – and how much that fee should be.

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After establishing a transportation company this year, I had the opportunity to survey retail prices in a large portion of the central U.S. It started or was prompted by a Toledo, Ohio store offering 1-gallon jugs for $1.75, regardless of fat content.

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January 2009 seems like a decade ago. Milk price averaged a balmy $16.12. Predictions of 2009 losses of $1,000 per cow seemed fanciful. We urged both producers and industry to work together to cushion against an industry-wide decimation, and wondered how farms would cope. Now we know. Unfortunately, the end of this story is far from over and although now we know, we don’t know it all.

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Milk production on a global scale had a definite impact on U.S. milk prices the past few years. Looking forward, it will be domestic production that will have the largest influence on prices in 2010.

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