Blog | June 3, 2009

Report from the Dairy Rally in Iowa

Joel Morton at the dairy rallyFarm Aid’s Joel Morton speaking at the Dairy Rally for Fair Prices. Photo © Fritz Nordengren
JoelA big shout-out to all those who participated in Saturday’s “Dairy Farmers Rally for Fair Prices” in Manchester, Iowa. The rally featured an impressive and diverse set of 14 speakers, many of whom were dairy farmers, both conventional and organic. After hearing the featured speakers, several more farmers stepped up to have their say during an open microphone session.

Even Farm Aid president Willie Nelson got in on the action, calling in by cell phone to voice support for the rally. Dairy farmer and rally organizer Jerry Harvey took the call while at the microphone and everybody got to listen in as Willie and Jerry discussed the nationwide dairy crisis and the range of solutions. Those solutions were presented at the rally and include:

  1. pressure for immediate action from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to set a temporary floor price for milk
  2. a sustained push for the best possible long-term federal legislation on dairy pricing;
  3. a renewed call for strict enforcement and expansion of anti-trust regulation to ensure that independent producers are no longer victimized by big dairy conglomerates, processors, and their cronies;
  4. direct cooperation between family farmers and consumers to ensure fair prices and high quality family farm products for everyone.

The Manchester rally drew about 170 people, including farmers and their families and friends, activists from Farm Aid ally and partner organizations, local and regional supporters and volunteers, and many members of the media. Participants came from at least eight states: Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. The many farm and community organizations on hand included Family Farm Defenders, the Iowa Farmers Union, the Nebraska Farmers Union, the National Farmers Union, the Center for Rural Affairs, the National Family Farm Coalition, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. In the days leading up to the rally we also had outreach support from dozens of organizations around the country, including Iowa-based groups such as the Women, Food and Ag Network, Practical Farmers of Iowa, as well as longtime Farm Aid allies such as the Missouri Rural Crisis Center.

What a great day! Thanks to everyone for supporting the core group of Iowa dairy farmers and farm advocates whose hard work and long hours made this grass-roots action possible. Now let’s build on this energy and keep the ball rolling! Stay tuned to for updates on what you can do to help in this crucial battle to save the family dairy farm in your locale and throughout the nation. Dairy has rightly been called the canary in the coal mine of industrial ag’s decades-long campaign to wipe out family farms — poultry in the 1970’s, hog farms in the 80’s and 90’s. Your action in the present moment will help determine the future of farming in America: whether we get our food from family farms or factories.

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