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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 46 / 53





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MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Next question, please? MR. ROGER PETERS:  Greetings, Mr. Secretary.  I'm Roger Peters, a dairy farmer from Tyler, Minnesota.  Over the years we've gone from 35 to 60 to 80 to 120, and a couple years ago we went to 240 dairy cows.  These are things that affect me as a dairy farmer.  I'm interested in preparing the next generation in agriculture.  I'm also addressing the question about how to help rural areas out. In order to prepare for the future we need a price that provides for the cost of production and will ensure that we can plan for the future with confidence.  We need to increase the support price of $9.90 for milk.  We can't let happen to us what happened to the hog farmers a few years back. Just to refresh your memories, a few years back slaughter hog prices went to $.08 a pound.  It pretty much put all of the smaller farmers out of business.  And the ones it didn't put out of business figured, why keep doing it?  So to keep up with the dairy industry from going the same way, we need a price that will at least cover the cost of production.  I mean, to raise it a little bit isn't going to make anybody rich or guarantee that they're going to stay in business.  This will ensure that farmers can prepare for the future not only to keep family members interested but to keep their operations up to date. Main Street needs us as farmers to be profitable.  Small towns live and die with what happens to farmers.  If we want small towns to not only survive but thrive, we need to keep farmers profitable, and one of those ways to do it to increase the support price.           I have three children-- 18, 16 and 14.  Right now I'm not sure what to tell them.  Right now prices are decent, but we had 18 months of prices at $9.90, and if prices went to the current support price that would be bad.  With costs continuing to escalate-- fuel, labor, electricity, everything basically that we buy -- we need a price that will allow us to prepare for the future.  Thank you.          

                                     MODERATOR:  Thank you very much. We're getting toward the end of our forum today but we're going to try to get as many questions in as we can, or statements to the Secretary.  Go ahead, please. MR. BRUCE DOKKEBAKKEN:  Secretary Johanns and Congressman Gutknecht and Congressman Peterson in absentia, you guys have a very difficult job.  You must perform that job at some personal sacrifice, and I want to thank you for your efforts. [Applause.] My name is Bruce Dokkebakken.  I'm the general manager of the Minnesota Dairy Herd Improvement Association.  I was a member of the committee that developed the U.S. Animal Identification Plan, and I guess what I would be interested in is number six.  We need a national animal ID system in order to open foreign markets.  But more importantly we need that system to protect our herd and our flock.  And I would ask Mr. Secretary that, first thing I guess I should do is warn you that I know where Stacyville and St. Ansgar and Osage are.  I've been to all three towns, so.

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