thumbnail of The Farmington Project; Troubled Harvest: The Market
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<v Host>Production funding for the farming project has been provided by the Rural Development <v Host>Administration, assisting emerging rural businesses in agriculture <v Host>and other industries. <v Speaker>This land of my forebears, who conformed its wildness <v Speaker>to their own designs, who plowed measured furrows across <v Speaker>its random swails and described its boundaries <v Speaker>in rows of stone. <v Speaker>Who baptized it with their sweat and their blood and joined <v Speaker>in with their bones. [music plays]
<v Farmer>That's three out of ten. <v Farmer>Four, five and five is ten. Thank you very much. <v Mac Parker>Thank you. Whether it's apples or milk or any <v Mac Parker>agricultural product, every farmer faces the challenge of being both <v Mac Parker>grower and seller in spite of our society's sometimes <v Mac Parker>romantic notions. <v Mac Parker>Farming is more than just a lifestyle. <v Mac Parker>It's also a business, a big business that converts the <v Mac Parker>fruit of the land into a harvest of hard dollars and cents. <v Mac Parker>Conversion is the basis of Vermont's farm economy. <v Mac Parker>Farmers harvest raw foods and sell them to be converted into marketable food products. <v Mac Parker>Sounds simple until you realize that producing, processing and selling farm <v Mac Parker>originated foods involves much more than just money changing hands. <v Mac Parker>Vermont's agricultural balance sheet is more problematic than it's ever been,
<v Mac Parker>and everyone in the system is feeling it. <v Mac Parker>These days, it costs Arnold Tebbetts a dollar 16 to make a gallon of high <v Mac Parker>cream jersey milk. Most of his production costs goes into feeding his 40 <v Mac Parker>cows, paying the electric bill and the debt service on farm machinery <v Mac Parker>and his veterinarian genetic expenses. <v Mac Parker>Tebbetts keeps things simple, making do with an outdated barn, working alone or <v Mac Parker>with a son, and generally cutting corners on everything but the quality of his product <v Mac Parker>for his efforts. He'll see a return this week of a dollar eight a gallon, <v Mac Parker>almost seven percent below what it cost him to produce his milk. <v Mac Parker>A poor financial return is not one of Hank Besell's problems. <v Mac Parker>Maintaining a market is The Beseell's spend nearly as much time and effort <v Mac Parker>cultivating their customer base as they do their cabbages. <v Mac Parker>Unlike dairy farmers, Vermont vegetable farmers lack an existing marketing <v Mac Parker>infrastructure. They're entrepreneurs whose financial success or failure
<v Mac Parker>depends entirely on skills. <v Mac Parker>Having nothing to do with farming, <v Mac Parker>the laws of supply and demand can wreak havoc on apple growers. <v Mac Parker>A bumper crop in 1993 flooded the market, driving the price down <v Mac Parker>sharply for Vermont Max. <v Mac Parker>Despite the huge international demand for Vermont apples, Sandy Wetherall <v Mac Parker>has had to worry more about good harvests than poor ones. <v Mac Parker>The more apples he produces, the likelier he is to lose money. <v Mac Parker>This dairy processing plant symbolized order and financial security <v Mac Parker>to three generations of Vermont farmers. <v Mac Parker>It provided them with a dependable marketing outlet as well as a measure of personal <v Mac Parker>identity, both of which were nearly destroyed during a bitter debate. <v Mac Parker>Ironically oversaving, the company. <v Mac Parker>Changing. Economic times have shaken Vermont's agricultural institutions to the <v Mac Parker>core. <v Mac Parker>But through it all, the industry has maintained an importance to the state that goes
<v Mac Parker>beyond the bottom line. <v Mac Parker>The current estimate of Vermont's gross agricultural product is 292 <v Mac Parker>million dollars under three percent of the state total. <v Mac Parker>Not a particularly impressive figure until you consider how interconnected the rest <v Mac Parker>of our economy is to farming. <v Jeff Carr>The best way to visualize the impact of a farm on agriculture in a local <v Jeff Carr>economy is the image of a rock being thrown in a mud puddle where there is a ripple <v Jeff Carr>effect created, where the benefits of the activities, the economic <v Jeff Carr>benefits of the activities ripple throughout the local economy. <v Mac Parker>Dairy farming comprises 85 percent of Vermont agriculture, <v Mac Parker>and its ripple effect is considerable. <v Mac Parker>Bill and Jenny Nelson's Homemaker's is a typical dairy farm, both in appearance <v Mac Parker>and in the effect it has on the local and regional economy. <v Mac Parker>Just about every farming activity involves major cash outlays.
<v Mac Parker>The Nelsons feed bill last year totaled ninety eight thousand dollars, Morrisson <v Mac Parker>custom feeds and Barnhardt sold the Nelsons twelve thousand dollars worth. <v Mac Parker>Wes Morrisons trucks go through over 600 gallons of diesel fuel every <v Mac Parker>month. Fuel that's purchased from Jock Oil in Wells River. <v Mac Parker>When Chuck Angel decided it was time to add a new fuel tanker to his fleet, <v Mac Parker>he financed the purchase through the Wells River Savings Bank. <v Mac Parker>His loan officer, Hazen Wilson, just happens to be the man who recently <v Mac Parker>approved. Bill and Jenny Nelson's short term loan to cover the 700 dollar <v Mac Parker>a month lease on their new feed wagon from Black Mount Equipment in nearby <v Mac Parker>North Haverhill, New Hampshire. <v Mac Parker>And so it goes, farm dollars quietly filtering their way through the economy. <v Martin Harris>Every dollar spent in an rural economy, in fact, has a seven <v Martin Harris>fold impact on the surrounding economy <v Martin Harris>because farmers, when they earn money, don't keep it under the mattress.
<v Martin Harris>They go out and spend it and those who earn it, then we spend it again and so on. <v Jenny Nelson>This is a list of the businesses that we do business with. <v Jenny Nelson>And if you look here at the top pool and Green and Morrison custom feeds, <v Jenny Nelson>that's where we buy all our grain for our cows. <v Jenny Nelson>And that amounts to about ninety eight thousand dollars worth of the farm expenses <v Jenny Nelson>that we have in a year. Five credit well, service savings bank, Ford Credit Corporation, <v Jenny Nelson>John Deere Co. and Telemark Inc. <v Jenny Nelson>Those are all the financial institutions where we borrow money, pay interest <v Jenny Nelson>and pay principals back. <v Mac Parker>In a single year of farming, about fifty thousand dollars pass through Homemaker's <v Mac Parker>Farm. There were substantial receipts and just as substantial expenses. <v Mac Parker>In the end, the Nelson family netted twenty four thousand dollars. <v Mac Parker>Their community gained three hundred and twenty six thousand dollars. <v Jenny Nelson>Potter, he's the fellow that repaired our tractors this spring, cost <v Jenny Nelson>about six thousand dollars. <v Mac Parker>And it goes on and on.
<v Mac Parker>Agriculture contributes to the existence of thousands of jobs both in and <v Mac Parker>out of farming. The industry relies on a vast infrastructure. <v Mac Parker>There are retailers to provide equipment, wholesalers to buy products, <v Mac Parker>educators to teach the latest technologies, bankers to finance improvements, <v Mac Parker>even government workers to keep tabs on all of it. <v Mac Parker>And it doesn't end there. <v Mac Parker>Tourism is Vermont's second largest moneymaker, and tourists want <v Mac Parker>to see farms. <v Jeff Carr>Having farms on the hillsides with cows chewing their cudd. <v Jeff Carr>Is something that tourists and travelers to Vermont have grown to expect. <v Jeff Carr>It's an integral part of the tourism experience. <v Jeff Carr>And the sightseeing experience for you is very pretty. <v Guest>You're very pretty. <v Mac Parker>Every fall, Bill and Jenny Nelson open their firm to a bus load of visitors <v Mac Parker>in search of the real Vermont. <v Jenny Nelson>I'd like to welcome you here to Vermont. <v Jenny Nelson>It's always fun to think that I'm the first Vermonter that gets to say hi to you.
<v Jenny Nelson>And it's a real pleasure to have you here at Homemaker's Farm today. <v Jenny Nelson>I think it's a wonderful opportunity for people to really meet <v Jenny Nelson>the farmers behind the bottle of milk. <v Jenny Nelson>They have a chance to go and see some calves in some of the band cats and smell <v Jenny Nelson>the fresh aroma. <v Jenny Nelson>And we really stress the fact that we take pride in making a good <v Jenny Nelson>product. <v Jerome E. Kelley>The people that produce agricultural products are intensely proud of their <v Jerome E. Kelley>own individual efforts towards producing quality. <v Jerome E. Kelley>We've had this reputation that goes back to the early days of our history. <v Jerome E. Kelley>If we just on average products to the market, the chances <v Jerome E. Kelley>are they would not have gotten a premium price and turn <v Jerome E. Kelley>would not have paid for that very tenuous track between <v Jerome E. Kelley>here in Boston. They're from here in New York. <v Jerome E. Kelley>It's a consequence. We always send our best products and that reputation has stayed
<v Jerome E. Kelley>with us. <v Mac Parker>Vermont farmers are devoted to their profession. <v Mac Parker>They have a nationwide reputation for producing quality and in the process, <v Mac Parker>enhancing the entire economy around them. <v Mac Parker>These would seem to be impressive ingredients for success and most business sectors. <v Mac Parker>So what's the problem here? <v Mac Parker>Simply stated, most Vermont farmers produce milk and most of that milk <v Mac Parker>is sold at a price that's below their cost of production. <v Mac Parker>Only 15 percent of Vermont milk is actually consumed in state <v Mac Parker>of the rest. <v Mac Parker>Half goes into products sold nationwide and the other half travels as fluid <v Mac Parker>milk to the supermarket shelves of southern New England. <v Mac Parker>The father of product travels from its point of origin, and the more people who <v Mac Parker>handle it on its way through the marketplace, the more confounding are the rules <v Mac Parker>that determine its price.
<v Mac Parker>Nowhere is Vermont's vulnerability to market forces outside our borders <v Mac Parker>more evident than in the way the price of milk is set. <v Mac Parker>This is where the current wholesale value of most basic foods is established. <v Mac Parker>High powered commodities trading here at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange <v Mac Parker>affects the producer price of everything from grain to pork bellies. <v Mac Parker>Here, the law of supply and demand takes the form of a wild auction <v Mac Parker>known for the sudden roller coaster price swings. <v Mac Parker>By which investor fortunes are made and lost. <v Mac Parker>But not all food commodities are traded at the market. <v Mac Parker>This is the action at the National Cheese Exchange.
<v Mac Parker>It's here in a 20 by 40 foot store front in Green Bay, Wisconsin, <v Mac Parker>that one of the most unique phenomena in market economics has played out. <v Mac Parker>Each Friday morning at exactly 10 a.m. <v Mac Parker>here each day to reduce it off around here, off to 135 or what happens <v Mac Parker>in the next half hour will greatly influence the price that America's 170 <v Mac Parker>1000 dairy farms will get for their milk. <v Mac Parker>Because the common denominator for milk prices throughout the nation is cheese. <v Mac Parker>One third of the milk that America's dairy farmers produce becomes cheese, <v Mac Parker>whether it be Monterey Jack or cheddar. <v Mac Parker>It comes off the assembly line looking like this. <v Mac Parker>Known in the industry as block or barrel cheese, since big processors <v Mac Parker>aren't completely sure how much cheese they'll sell. <v Mac Parker>They store their surplus in cold storage warehouses like this one until the extra <v Mac Parker>cheese becomes a problem or an opportunity. <v Tina Seifert>The members can either offer cheese if they have cheese for sale or they
<v Tina Seifert>can bid for cheese if they desire to buy cheese. <v Richard Gould>People come here when they have an excess of inventory or when a processor <v Richard Gould>or a company has contracts to supply a customer and they find themselves <v Richard Gould>needing a little more cheese than they have on hand. <v Richard Gould>Basically, every major cheese company in the United States is a member. <v Richard Gould>We have the major co-ops, Mid-America Farms, <v Richard Gould>API, Land O'Lakes, and then we have the big <v Richard Gould>cheese companies like Kraft Board and Shreiber. <v Mac Parker>Attorney Richard Gould presides over the weekly writes of cheese trading, <v Mac Parker>as he has for over 30 years. <v Mac Parker>In fact, everything about the exchange is steeped in tradition, from the portraits <v Mac Parker>of past cheese giants to the original 1915 charter <v Mac Parker>that created a private sector institution that would ultimately become the barometer <v Mac Parker>of an entire industry. <v Guest>Now finalized reduces its offer to one thirty three fourths.
<v Richard Gould>Our primary purpose is not to serve as a benchmark for establishing <v Richard Gould>the prices of cheese. <v Richard Gould>It just turned out that way because people have found that the transactions here <v Richard Gould>are an accurate barometer of the value of cheese. <v Mac Parker>This day has not been a good one. <v Guest>Four barrels at 130 and a half offered by Kraft. <v Mac Parker>A single computer transmission of the morning's trading to the federal Milk Marketing <v Mac Parker>Administration will result in a four percent price drop nationally. <v Mac Parker>Among the losers will be Vermont farmers. <v Bernie Sanders>Their policy is precisely to drive prices down for farmers. <v Bernie Sanders>If the people who purchase the milk and distribute it can pay farmers lower prices, they <v Bernie Sanders>make more money. And that's what they've been doing. <v Lee Light>There's a lot of money being made off of the cheap milk prices. <v Lee Light>I mean, the processors who are buying the cheap, raw product <v Lee Light>have ample supply of as much milk as they want.
<v Lee Light>They can turn it into a value added product, put it on the market and make a lot of <v Lee Light>money. <v Richard Gould>Every time the market goes down, the national cheese <v Richard Gould>exchange gets blamed. <v Richard Gould>Just as the messenger gets blamed when he brings bad news. <v Richard Gould>Well, I, I can't account for that. <v Richard Gould>We demonstrate the free a free market economy. <v Mac Parker>A free market theoretically rewards all participants. <v Mac Parker>But in the case of American agriculture, one set of players seems to be losing <v Mac Parker>out at a party. <v Mac Parker>While Americans are paying more for their food. <v Mac Parker>Farmers are making less. <v Mac Parker>The United States Department of Agriculture found that the farm value for milk <v Mac Parker>what the farmer earned, dropped five percent from 1982 to 1994.
<v Mac Parker>While grocery prices for dairy products rose 30 percent. <v Mac Parker>Some blame the situation on greedy retailers. <v Dan Smith>Somebody in the milk business is making money. <v Dan Smith>The supermarkets are making the money. <v Dan Smith>Farmers are being paid a dollar. Ten dollar, 20 a gallon. <v Dan Smith>Consumers are paying 250 a gallon. <v Mac Parker>Or is it the processers fault? <v Martin Harris>Middle men are making up about what middle man in other industries <v Martin Harris>are making. But because farmers are making so little, the men of middle man <v Martin Harris>take looks abusive by comparison. <v Martin Harris>Or is it our own fault? <v Martin Harris>Milk is cheap because consumers have exercised their clout to <v Martin Harris>encourage enough of a state of overproduction that the milk prices are down <v Martin Harris>as low as they can get. <v Robert Wellington>There is no culprit in the current milk pricing situation. <v Robert Wellington>Basically, consumers have been the ones that had been the primary beneficiaries of low <v Robert Wellington>milk prices over the last several years.
<v Mac Parker>Americans have long enjoyed the cheapest food of all the industrialized nations. <v Mac Parker>Why? Well, one theory is that the government's been helping us with our <v Mac Parker>grocery bill as part of a deliberate policy of social engineering. <v Martin Harris>Well, the national keep food policy is not an American invention, it's a Western European <v Martin Harris>invention. And they're policy planners decided that if urban workers <v Martin Harris>did not spend money on food, they would spend it on urban products and services. <v Martin Harris>When the U.S. became Urban 1920 census records that <v Martin Harris>our policy planners then followed the European model, we adopted a <v Martin Harris>cheap food policy. The only difference is that we have been far more successful at it <v Martin Harris>than anybody else. And our food, therefore costs less in proportion <v Martin Harris>than in any other Western country. <v Mac Parker>Urban areas have played another key role in determining how Vermont milk is sold. <v Mac Parker>The cities of southern New England are Vermont's major dairy market, as they've been for
<v Mac Parker>over 100 years. <v Mac Parker>By the turn of the century, the distant urban thirst for Vermont's fluid milk was <v Mac Parker>unquenchable. <v Mac Parker>But farmers soon discovered that it took more than railroad tracks to get their product <v Mac Parker>to market. A sophisticated network of handlers and middlemen all wanted <v Mac Parker>a cut of the action. In response, farmers found strength in numbers <v Mac Parker>by joining co-operative marketing associations. <v Mac Parker>Though the new member owned co-ops were able to force price concessions in far off <v Mac Parker>Boston, they suffered some early setbacks. <v Mac Parker>Closer to home. <v Robert Wellington>In the first part of the century, co-ops tried to set and maintain the price of milk. <v Robert Wellington>However, they were often undercut by farmers who did not belong to cooperatives. <v Robert Wellington>This would send that price of milk spiraling downward. <v Mac Parker>Dairy co-ops have had a stormy history. <v Mac Parker>Milk strikes, bankruptcies and mergers have tested the system over the years. <v Mac Parker>Take the crisis that recently struck one of Vermont's oldest and most successful
<v Mac Parker>cooperatives, a crisis that challenged the concept of farmer owned marketing. <v Mac Parker>While revealing the stark realities of selling milk. <v Mac Parker>The old hill farms overlooking the sleepy village of Cabot are survivors <v Mac Parker>today, due in large measure to something that happened in 1919 <v Mac Parker>at a time when the Boston milk market must have seemed as remote as Mars. <v Mac Parker>A handful of Cabot farmers took control of their own destiny. <v Arnold Tebbetts>A group of farmers get together decided to form a co-operative. <v Arnold Tebbetts>They invested thirty dollars per cow or something and started the Creamer. <v Mac Parker>The character of the people who farm the hills around Cabot derives from the character <v Mac Parker>of this place, carved as it was out of a sharply defined upline <v Mac Parker>valley. The Cabot Creamery came to represent the independence and self-determination
<v Mac Parker>of a community. Eventually, the local identity and that of its primary <v Mac Parker>industry became one in the same. <v Mac Parker>The creamery gave local farmers like Knight Abbott and Arnold Tebbetts <v Mac Parker>their first lessons in cooperation and pride. <v Arnold Tebbetts>Everyone that we in Cabot shipped out to Cabot and there were hard <v Arnold Tebbetts>times along the way. <v Arnold Tebbetts>There were times I know there was one time when my father had to and some <v Arnold Tebbetts>other farmers had to sign a note. <v Arnold Tebbetts>The Caledonia Bank. <v Arnold Tebbetts>So everybody could get paid for their milk. <v Knight Abbott>When I started shipping there,there was a pride in being in the ownership of it. <v Knight Abbott>You still had a voice in what was happening there? <v Knight Abbott>It paid dividends. We got a little money back. <v Knight Abbott>That money, if we sold out and retired over a period of
<v Knight Abbott>seven years, we would flow into our retirement. <v Knight Abbott>Which was excellent. <v Knight Abbott>Because farmers don't put a lot away for retirement anyway. <v Knight Abbott>So it was was good. <v Knight Abbott>And I just gave you a strong, healthy feeling being there and belonging <v Knight Abbott>to it. <v Mac Parker>It was a perfect match. Hardworking local producers supplying <v Mac Parker>the seemingly endless needs of a well-run nearby processing plant <v Mac Parker>which they themselves owned. <v Mac Parker>And for the better part of a century, the marriage worked. <v William Davis>So what went wrong? This gem, this model of cooperative spirit. <v William Davis>Where did it go? Awful. It was lack of communication, lack of of <v William Davis>getting the entire membership to understand the complexities and <v William Davis>the changes in the market. <v Mac Parker>Bill Davis spent his first 11 years at Cabot as marketing director. <v Mac Parker>Over that time, he saw a pattern of declining profits for processors like Cabot <v Mac Parker>that supplied commodity products to brand name companies.
<v William Davis>We were a commodity company in an area with much higher costs than anybody else. <v William Davis>And either we took a risk and got into the value added consumer products business <v William Davis>or fold up our tent. We were literally at that point in time. <v William Davis>We had commitments like a ninety three thousand square foot warehouse. <v William Davis>We needed both a place to store an age, our cheese, so we built one <v William Davis>is a real high stakes gamble for the owners. <v William Davis>And I think many of them knew that. <v Lee Light>I mean, that was during the 80s. <v Lee Light>I mean, a lot of businesses over invested. <v Lee Light>And, you know, I think he over invested. <v William Davis>Many of the members recognized that this was a long term investment <v William Davis>and keep the money in the company and working and other members saw it <v William Davis>as an opportunity to have some cash to help them on their own farms. <v Lee Light>Here you have farmers that are severely economically stressed to begin with. <v Lee Light>And to say that you're going to have to spend 50 cents more out of every 100 pounds of
<v Lee Light>milk to ship to keep Cabot going. <v Lee Light>Most of the farmers couldn't afford to do that. <v William Davis>We brought in a couple outside consultants who said, you've got a great story <v William Davis>to tell. If you're gonna be a consumer products company, you need to get some more equity <v William Davis>in here. <v William Davis>We recommend that you take a look at selling part of the company. <v William Davis>This was not anything that was either understood or <v William Davis>supported by the board because we'd been doing so well. <v William Davis>They said, no, let's keep it all. We want a hundred percent ownership. <v William Davis>Hundred percent control. <v William Davis>And we went on with business. <v William Davis>And then all of a sudden, milk prices went to unprecedented high levels, which <v William Davis>were good for the dairy farmers. But increase the cost to make cheese <v William Davis>because the high milk price farmers produce more product. <v William Davis>We made extra cheese. And as a co-op, we had way too much product to market. <v William Davis>So the banks said, you can't do this. <v William Davis>You need some equity. You can't keep paying cash out.
<v William Davis>You need to leave that cash in the company. <v William Davis>Some of the owners said, let's get smaller. <v William Davis>And then and then we can finance it and let's keep it just the way it is. <v William Davis>And then there was another group that said, let's put more, more, more money in this. <v Guest>Board of directors is willing to work with all of the membership <v Guest>and making sure that what we come up with next for our plan is one that does represent <v Guest>everybody. <v William Davis>The board decided that the best way to keep the co-op was to get outside <v William Davis>resources to finance the manufacturing marketing company. <v Arnold Tebbetts>The news first came out that. <v Arnold Tebbetts>They were looking for outside investors. <v Arnold Tebbetts>We surmised that there was a problem. <v Lee Light>I mean, it was a total shock to all of us. <v Lee Light>When they started saying we're going to have to sell this place. <v William Davis>Local farmers had a real attachment to the co-op and had an emotional <v William Davis>tie with a co-op. <v William Davis>Didn't like that solution. And so we had a very <v William Davis>long and and bitter struggle internally
<v William Davis>with the board and the membership, trying to decide what they wanted to be <v William Davis>going on. <v Mac Parker>July thirty first nineteen ninety two, following a series of skirmishes between <v Mac Parker>management board and membership. <v Mac Parker>The Cabot Farmer's Co-operative Creamery became a subsidiary of the region's largest <v Mac Parker>dairy co-op, agro market. <v Mac Parker>For many, the merger meant being able to move ahead with the new cabinet. <v Mac Parker>Others saw it as a betrayal. <v Mac Parker>I just didn't want to deal with Selling. <v Mac Parker>Sold the herd got out. <v Mac Parker>Knight Abbott had come out of retirement and bought a new herd of cows just to be able to <v Mac Parker>vote against the merger. He refused to sign on with Agramark and lost <v Mac Parker>most of his equity. <v Arnold Tebbetts>They gave us an opportunity to take in 50 cents on the dollar, getting on. <v Mac Parker>Arnold Timbits quit the co-op. <v Mac Parker>His father helped start in 1919. <v Mac Parker>He lost two thirds of the equity he'd built just to be able to sell his milk elsewhere.
<v Arnold Tebbetts>We were fed up with the whole situation and <v Arnold Tebbetts>didn't want to be involved anymore and didn't want to support <v Arnold Tebbetts>what was going on. <v Lee Light>We were heartbroken. I mean, we had chipped our milk cabot for 50 years. <v Lee Light>Then we finally lost it. <v Lee Light>A part of us was lost. And until it was the beginning of us not <v Lee Light>feeling good about being in the dairy business. <v Mac Parker>In the aftermath of their defeat in the merger battle, Bob and Lee light would <v Mac Parker>eventually leave dairy farming altogether. <v William Davis>I mean, maybe we should have been just this little company that sold dairy products in <v William Davis>Vermont and that's fine. <v William Davis>And that would have been all right in a in a in a world that wasn't changing. <v William Davis>I love this. <v Mac Parker>As for Bill Davis, life as a corporate division head would mean a more receptive <v Mac Parker>audience for his gospel of market pragmatism and changing times. <v William Davis>That's clearly going to jump out. So that's why we are in a capitalistic
<v William Davis>society. Some of us don't like it. <v William Davis>Some of us do. But the reality is that's where we are with agriculture. <v William Davis>Supply and demand. <v William Davis>We are competing nationally and soon internationally. <v William Davis>And we need to to understand that competition and figure out ways to <v William Davis>maneuver around it. <v Mac Parker>The financial stakes have far surpassed anything the founders of this creamery <v Mac Parker>ever imagined. Where once quality was enough to keep farmers competitive, <v Mac Parker>the key to survival in today's marketplace is scale. <v Mac Parker>In 1931, there were 33 cooperative creameries based in Vermont. <v Mac Parker>Now there's only one. The 567 members of the St. Albans <v Mac Parker>Co-operative Creamery represent barely a third of the farms in the state. <v Mac Parker>Most of the others sell their milk to out-of-state companies that keep their competitive <v Mac Parker>edge through sheer size. Hi, welcome to Apple. <v Mac Parker>Mac AG Remarque is the largest dairy cooperative in New England here <v Mac Parker>from its suite of modern offices in suburban Methuen, Massachusetts.
<v Mac Parker>The co-op oversees the shipment of one hundred and forty eight tanker loads of milk a day <v Mac Parker>from over 2000 farms throughout the Northeast. <v Mac Parker>That's two and a half billion pounds of milk a year, 24 hours a day, <v Mac Parker>seven days a week, 365 days a year. <v Gloria Little>Right. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. OK. <v Gloria Little>Thank you. <v Gloria Little>I'm keeping track of a million pounds of milk per day that's picked up from <v Gloria Little>memberss. It's delivered to different customers all over New England. <v Gale Monidor>We do take this home with us on the weekends and at nights on call 24 hours a day. <v Mac Parker>The co-operative buys milk from eight hundred Vermont firms, Agramark <v Mac Parker>membership means farmers can do business with industry giants like HP, Hood <v Mac Parker>and Kraft. By virtue of the contracts their co-op negotiates with these large <v Mac Parker>processors. <v Guest>Let me put that one together and then I'll get back to you. <v Guest>Okay, very good. <v Mac Parker>It's a system that works for thousands of farmers taking advantage of collective might
<v Mac Parker>to reach distant, lucrative markets. <v Mac Parker>But it's not a system that works for everybody. <v Mac Parker>Many Vermont farmers are feeling increasingly disenfranchized by the growth <v Mac Parker>of what used to be a small local organization. <v Mac Parker>As the dairy industry has grown, many say it has grown beyond Vermont farmers <v Mac Parker>ability to understand it or control it, activated by 10 years <v Mac Parker>of stagnant milk prices. Some farmers are taking on their co-op. <v Karen Shaw>I think the tail has been wagging the tiger too long. <v Forest Foster>We're getting the same price as we were when they started in 1980. <v Mac Parker>In the spring of 1993, Agramark members Karen Shaw and Forest <v Mac Parker>Foster sued for disclosure of the salaries of co-op managers. <v Mac Parker>They argued that the co-op was being run for the benefit of management, not farmers. <v Mac Parker>Foster and Shaw stated that as member owners of the co-operative, it was their right to <v Mac Parker>know the salaries of their employees. <v Mac Parker>Agramark replied that since Foster and Shaw were members, but not shareholders in the <v Mac Parker>company. The co-op did not have to reveal the salaries.
<v Guest>That is the way I see. The problem is that most of us work a lot of hours <v Guest>and don't make a lot of money. <v Mac Parker>That summer, Agramark farmers from Vermont's Northeast Kingdom met to discuss <v Mac Parker>bringing the salary issue before their board of directors. <v Guest>We as the board of directors aren't gonna know unless we discuss it. <v Guest>So I've no problem with discussing it. <v Guest>I think the main feeling is that we want to be sure that they're <v Guest>earning their pay. <v Guest>What do the co-ops in California pay their management? <v Guest>How do you know that whole industry competes for jobs among themselves? <v Guest>Maybe we are overpaying ours. Maybe we're underpaid, but we don't know. <v Guest>Would you let me come to your farm and say, I want to know what you are on your farm. <v Guest>Let you make a profit. How much it cost you to make it and <v Guest>how much you get ended up with? Is your management wrong? <v Guest>You did it for you are going to sit there and tell me. <v Guest>I now so many dollars this way. <v Guest>That is none of your business. But this is a business because this is our
<v Guest>company, right. We own it. <v Mac Parker>One year later, a U.S. district court ruled in favor of foster and shore, <v Mac Parker>Agramark disclosed the predictably high salary of its general manager, <v Mac Parker>a salary that the company claims is simply a part of the cost of doing big business. <v Robert Wellington>That salary is based upon the duties and responsibilities of a general manager <v Robert Wellington>who is running a 400 million dollar business. <v Robert Wellington>Those duties and responsibilities are different from what a farmer who's milking 50 or <v Robert Wellington>60 cows would have. It's a very difficult task to run a milk marketing cooperative. <v Robert Wellington>We basically have to pick up all our producers milk every day and find <v Robert Wellington>a home for it at the highest possible price. <v Robert Wellington>However, at the same time, we have to meet the needs of remember owners, <v Robert Wellington>and often those needs are a conflict. <v Mac Parker>Some Agramark members applauded the release of salary information. <v Mac Parker>Others condemned the decision. <v Mac Parker>The situation reflects one of the major hurdles farmers face in controlling the sale <v Mac Parker>of their product. An inability to reach consensus among themselves.
<v William Davis>You have many member owners of a co-operative and they have to agree on these type of <v William Davis>issues. We have a large group together that can be a difficult task. <v Guest>If everybody wants to do something different than everybody else and we're not willing <v Guest>to give up a little bit of our freedoms to band together to achieve some overall good, <v Guest>we're really gonna be noncompetitive in the dairy world. <v Mac Parker>York, Pennsylvania, June 1993. <v Mac Parker>In a first of its kind event, farmers from around the nation have gathered for a dairy <v Mac Parker>summit. <v Mac Parker>At issue is the continued nosedive of milk prices and the loss of family <v Mac Parker>farms that goes with it. <v Curt Rothland>The average family farm is being squeezed harder and harder until <v Curt Rothland>there's fewer and fewer of us left. <v Duane Clark>We see corporate farming looming on the edge pretty well devoured the poultry <v Duane Clark>industry. They're working on the swine industry. <v Charlotte Pellegrini>We have an aging dairy infrastructure and an aging farm population. <v Charlotte Pellegrini>We don't have young people coming in that want to take over the family farm.
<v Charlotte Pellegrini>There's no incentive. <v Mac Parker>The summit has been organized by Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Vermont Senator <v Mac Parker>Patrick Leahy in attendance as U.S. <v Mac Parker>Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy. <v Mike Espy>As you know, we are dedicated to to be in farmer friendly. <v Mike Espy>And part of that farmer friendliness, is doing everything that we can do to try to <v Mike Espy>improve farm income. <v Mike Espy>That's our number one priority. <v Doug Clarke>Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, I'm Doug Clarke from Franklin, Vermont. <v Doug Clarke>I would like you people to take back with you four important things. <v Doug Clarke>Number one, I'm not willing to have my farm taken away from me. <v Doug Clarke>Number two, I'm not willing to have to give my farm away. <v Doug Clarke>Number three, we must have a supply management system of some kind. <v Doug Clarke>And number four, we have to have our cost of production plus
<v Doug Clarke>a reasonable profit. <v Mac Parker>Maybe the best that can be said for the dairy summit is that it occurred. <v Sen. Patrick Leahy>We've never had a secretary of agriculture and chairman of the committee who are willing <v Sen. Patrick Leahy>to sit down and listen like this. <v Mike Espy>It depends on who you talk to. They seem to have a different opinion. <v Mike Espy>Time to sit and listen to everyone in order to construct a policy that <v Mike Espy>is fair and equitable. <v Mike Espy>We want to do everything that we can do to support production, agriculture, <v Mike Espy>everything that we can do. <v Mac Parker>The worst that can be said about the summit is that it would have little immediate impact <v Mac Parker>on the hard issues facing today's dairy industry. <v Mac Parker>Why? Well, some say it's because even if farmers can get together in <v Mac Parker>one room, they still can't get together on a single point of view. <v Curt Rothland>Unity is extremely important. <v Curt Rothland>If we're going to actually have dairy programs that can <v Curt Rothland>benefit us here in the Northeast. <v Guest>I voted and I looked across and I got no vote. <v Guest>If we do not come away from here today with some kind of a unity in a form of a program
<v Guest>that we want for dairy farmers, we're not going to be here much longer. <v Guest>And we're not going to need the processes to process our product because there won't be <v Guest>anything. <v Farmer>Nobody is going to get the absolute perfect plan because there is no <v Farmer>absolutely perfect government plan for any farmers. <v Farmer>And farmers have got to understand that's not going to happen. <v Lee Light>I think that in the agricultural community, there are very diverse <v Lee Light>views. The politicians thrive on that because if <v Lee Light>the farmers are divided, that means they don't have to do anything because, you know, <v Lee Light>they can't they can't get a clear cut solution to the problem. <v Charlotte Pellegrini>There's just not enough farmers. <v Charlotte Pellegrini>And I don't think there's enough people in Congress and Senate that have farm interests <v Charlotte Pellegrini>at heart. <v Bernie Sanders>A hundred years ago, farmers were an important political bloc because you had millions of <v Bernie Sanders>family farmers and their representatives had to listen to them if they wanted to get <v Bernie Sanders>reelected. What we know now is with the decline of the family farms, farmers do not have <v Bernie Sanders>the political clout.
<v Bernie Sanders>Two years ago, there was a guy from Wisconsin. <v Bernie Sanders>Who I have disagreements with where he comes from, a dairy farm state. <v Bernie Sanders>And he got on the floor of the house and he was talking about the serious problems facing <v Bernie Sanders>family farmers, dairy farmers and within the group of members in the Congress <v Bernie Sanders>were listening. So these guys are going moo. <v Bernie Sanders>They thought it was all very funny. <v Speaker>If we could come if we could come back and <v Speaker>order. <v Mac Parker>What neither the government nor farmers appear to be taking very seriously, is that <v Mac Parker>unless some kind of consensus is reached very soon, a vital economic <v Mac Parker>sector may suffer beyond the point of repair. <v Mac Parker>In New York, we've lost over 10000 dairy producers since 1980. <v Mac Parker>They have several choices. <v Mac Parker>Or do they? They can control the amount of milk produced, thereby increasing <v Mac Parker>its value and the farmer's profit margin. <v Guest>We need a two tier supply management program that will give us a cost <v Guest>of production plus a profit. <v Guest>We have been asking for this for years.
<v Mac Parker>But self-regulation seems as unlikely a prospect as federal regulation. <v Mac Parker>The government can further subsidize farm products. <v Mac Parker>But government is trying to cut costs, not increase them. <v Mac Parker>They can develop foreign markets. <v Mac Parker>But dairy products are perishable. <v Mac Parker>And many countries protect their own dairy industries with trade barriers. <v Mac Parker>Or they can simply sit back and let free market competition decide which farmers <v Mac Parker>will stay in business and which ones won't. <v Mac Parker>Whatever the choice, whoever produces milk the cheapest way may have the best <v Mac Parker>chance of surviving. <v Mac Parker>Dairy farmers are currently guaranteed a market for their product, no matter how <v Mac Parker>much milk they produce, someone will buy it. <v Mac Parker>The farmers who grow Vermont's other agricultural products aren't so fortunate. <v Mac Parker>What they grow. They also sell. <v Mac Parker>And they know some things about the free market that dairy farmers don't. <v Hank Bissell>I think that part of the problem the dairy industry has is
<v Hank Bissell>they've given away their marketing to someone else. <v Mac Parker>Hank Bissell is typical of the hard headed entrepreneurial realists who inhabit <v Mac Parker>Vermont's nondairy farming sector without the benefit of a marketing infrastructure. <v Mac Parker>Success in the wholesale vegetable business relies on the ability to sense <v Mac Parker>the buying mood of your customers and pounce on it. <v Hank Bissell>What the market demands is what drives my business determines what I grow. <v Hank Bissell>What quality it needs to be. <v Hank Bissell>Cause if I can't sell something, no matter how good it is, if I can't sell something, <v Hank Bissell>there's no money. The bottom line is I'm making a living. <v Hank Bissell>I may be really thrilled about growing winter squash and pumpkins, <v Hank Bissell>but if there's no one to buy it or buy the quantity, I swallow the loss. <v Hank Bissell>All the potatoes are in upstairs is, are you still getting the same number of chef's? <v Hank Bissell>I am growing food for other people.
<v Hank Bissell>What they want drives what I grow and how I grow <v Hank Bissell>it. <v Mac Parker>Control over a farmer's own sales comes at a price. <v Mac Parker>Entrepreneurship means all kinds of added responsibilities like market <v Mac Parker>analysis and product development. <v Hank Bissell>The problem with cauliflowers. People don't want a white vegetable. <v Hank Bissell>The only thing that sells cauliflower is this brilliant white cauliflower. <v Hank Bissell>I remember the first time I had to do shopping for myself and I went to the grocery <v Hank Bissell>store and I was just struck by <v Hank Bissell>this cauliflower. <v Hank Bissell>It's just the way it was whiter than a piece of office paper. <v Hank Bissell>It was just glowing there. <v Hank Bissell>And I know I bought it because I was just so struck by that <v Hank Bissell>item. And that's why people buy cauliflower, because it's almost a mystical
<v Hank Bissell>experience to see this. This bright white thing. <v Hank Bissell>And I've just been struggling for years getting that whiteness. <v Mac Parker>Uncompromising quality control gives the Bissell's one of the few advantages <v Mac Parker>they have to compete with large out-of-state growers. <v Hank Bissell>My philosophy has always been a good product sells itself. <v Hank Bissell>And I've spent very little on advertising. <v Hank Bissell>And found that that if I if I produce something <v Hank Bissell>good, they'll come back for. <v Hank Bissell>The other thing is getting the quality of crop that you need <v Hank Bissell>at a reasonable cost. <v Hank Bissell>You can jump through all sorts of hoops at great expense, but you may not make any money <v Hank Bissell>on it. You still have to make some money on yourself. <v Hank Bissell>It's gotta be some left over for me. <v Lee Light>Competition is the name of the game. We try to stay ahead of the game. <v Lee Light>It's a very small change from the field to the packing shed to me
<v Lee Light>and then to the consumer. So there's a lot of accountability. <v Mac Parker>Whether it's selling at a curbside farmer's market, selling directly to <v Mac Parker>the consumers. <v Cecilia Bissell>You get some very direct feedback. <v Mac Parker>Or hawking wholesale orders from her converted bedroom office. <v Mac Parker>Hi there. <v Cecilia Bissell>Sure. It's this pretty much the same list. <v Mac Parker>Like her partner, Cecilia Bissell's, sales marketing priorities are clear and to <v Mac Parker>the point. <v Cecilia Bissell>The customer is always right and we have to continually be vigilant <v Cecilia Bissell>in serving them well and accommodating their special <v Cecilia Bissell>needs, which I think small farmers can lend themselves to doing. <v Cecilia Bissell>The two pounders sell better for you than the one pound. <v Cecilia Bissell>Normally we sell carrots in a 50 pound bag. <v Cecilia Bissell>But if somebody asks for only 10 pounds, we will do that. <v Cecilia Bissell>They may be charged a little bit more, but we will do it. <v Cecilia Bissell>We smile and say, Sure.
<v Mac Parker>To compete with supermarket chains that can offer the largest and cheapest selection, <v Mac Parker>local growers like the Bissell's of Lewis Creek Farm are capitalizing on the things <v Mac Parker>only they can offer freshness, top quality and something more. <v Hank Bissell>It's that personal contact that ultimately makes the sale, <v Hank Bissell>makes the difference. It's the integrity of the of the personal <v Hank Bissell>relationships that people <v Hank Bissell>get out of buying locally. <v Hank Bissell>This feeling of some sort of personal connection with the product or the people <v Hank Bissell>that grew it, that is the satisfaction <v Hank Bissell>that sells local product. <v Mac Parker>Selling local products means more than just setting up a roadside stand. <v Mac Parker>It means getting out and meeting the customer, something that many Vermont farmers are <v Mac Parker>doing for the first time.
<v Paul Stone>Would you like to try some Vermont, Turkey. <v Paul Stone>This tells about our farm, we grow our own turkeys and have 10000 <v Paul Stone>this year. <v Paul Stone>This is our turkey breast. <v Paul Stone>This whole project that you're attending here is to help farmers market their products. <v Mac Parker>Eight years ago, Paul Stone would probably have spent a summer afternoon getting <v Mac Parker>in a second cut of hay. <v Mac Parker>Today, the former dairy farmer is serving up Turkey Galantine to a <v Mac Parker>crowd of upscale consumers. <v Paul Stone>This tells about our farm. These turkeys are grown in Vermont. <v Mac Parker>Paul Stone is a man more at ease on a tractor than in front of a crowd. <v Mac Parker>But if he wanted to keep farming, serving up a little turkey was a necessary change. <v Paul Stone>I farm because I like it. It's an emotional thing. <v Paul Stone>And the problem with that is when farmers or anybody makes a decision on an emotional <v Paul Stone>level, it may not make economic sense.
<v Mac Parker>In 1989, Paul and Frances Stone sold their dairy herd. <v Mac Parker>They were tired of making less and less money for their milk. <v Mac Parker>They wanted to try a new venture, one that would give them more control over the price of <v Mac Parker>their product. <v Mac Parker>Turkeys, thousands of them raised with care. <v Mac Parker>Out on the open range with no hormones or antibiotics, especially <v Mac Parker>product that the Stones can charge more for than average mass produce Turkey. <v Mac Parker>With this new product came the need to learn some new skills. <v Paul Stone>There are lots of opportunities in all areas of agricultural production as far as I'm <v Paul Stone>concerned, but the key to it is being willing to have some kind of a marketing ability. <v Paul Stone>Once we change turkeys, I've found that I've spent half my time <v Paul Stone>marketing the other half and trying to run the farm. <v Paul Stone>This is a turkey galantine turkey,. <v Guest>a trukey which? <v Paul Stone>Galantine. <v Paul Stone>Some points, marketing is all we do for extended periods of time. <v Paul Stone>Go to food shows. We're on the road going to stores, you know.
<v Paul Stone>Would you like to handle our products? Here's what we have been turned down. <v Paul Stone>Having enough gumption to go to the next store and not and <v Paul Stone>even though you're discouraged. And it's it's it's a new kind <v Paul Stone>of experience. Many farmers are not interested in it. <v Mac Parker>To the Stones, Marketing means more than just getting their product from the farm to <v Mac Parker>the customer. They found it's better advertising to bring the customer <v Mac Parker>to the farm. <v Paul Stone>Stop and look. <v Guest>OK we'll surley do that. <v Frances Stone>We decided early on that we were not only going to grow Vermont turkeys, <v Frances Stone>but we were going to grow Stonewood Farm, Vermont turkeys. <v Frances Stone>And I think we are the first ones in the state that actually have our own <v Frances Stone>label. Of course, we have our name and address and our phone number, and we make <v Frances Stone>it plain that our numbers there for you to call us. <v Frances Stone>And I found that people really like it when I can tell them personal things about <v Frances Stone>the farm, about the turkeys, they'll call me and say, well, I have a dumb question,
<v Frances Stone>but, you know, and it's like, that's OK. <v Frances Stone>You can have a dumb question. Just tell me what it is. <v Mac Parker>The Stones versatility has paid off. <v Mac Parker>In 1994, they raised, processed and sold over 12000 <v Mac Parker>birds. Shipping haul turkeys and turkey products all over New York and <v Mac Parker>New England. The new venture does have a downside. <v Mac Parker>The Stones now process what they raise. <v Mac Parker>It costs two hundred thousand dollars to build this new plant. <v Mac Parker>It's going to take a lot of turkey to pay it off. <v Paul Stone>If transferring from dairy to Turkey's wise. <v Paul Stone>I'm not sure I can answer that question yet on the economics <v Paul Stone>part of it. But on the other part of it, to be able to do some marketing. <v Paul Stone>Yes, I'm very glad I made the change. <v Paul Stone>This tells about how our turkeys are growing. <v Paul Stone>They're all Vermont turkeys. <v Paul Stone>The key to me is marketing. <v Paul Stone>One of the big advantages we have in Vermont is the name Vermont.
<v Paul Stone>It has historically meant a lot to people in terms of quality and tastiness. <v Paul Stone>And it's just a great tool that most other states don't have. <v Paul Stone>I feel that we have that advantage and we're not taking enough advantage of <v Paul Stone>it, particularly in Milk. <v Mac Parker>If the Vermont name can sell turkeys, can it do the same for milk? <v Mac Parker>Not long ago, Steve Judge was a typical Vermont dairy farmer. <v Mac Parker>He worked efficiently and produced lots of milk. <v Mac Parker>Yet his Jersey herd generated barely enough income to support his farming <v Mac Parker>operations, let alone his family of six. <v Mac Parker>Something had to change. <v Steve Judge>We realized very quickly that we needed to get more money for our milk. <v Steve Judge>I was stuck in a single guaranteed market, and because <v Steve Judge>the guaranteed price is so low, it doesn't really <v Steve Judge>cover our production costs. <v Mac Parker>At a time when most of the farm community was busy lamenting their economic plight.
<v Mac Parker>Judge set out to find a better way to market his product. <v Steve Judge>Since we were a farm that focused on quality and keeping our cows <v Steve Judge>clean and treating them humanely. <v Steve Judge>With a family or a heavy family orientation, <v Steve Judge>we felt that there was a market for for milk like that. <v Steve Judge>He liked the farms and we've price for the Wilfred's farm. <v Steve Judge>So the first thing we did was to identify a group of farmers that <v Steve Judge>would come together as a marketing organization. <v Jonathan Rutter>I heard of what Steve was trying to do and I pursued it. <v Mac Parker>One by one judge signed on nearby farmers who shared his vision of <v Mac Parker>a small local cooperative marketing their own premium priced milk <v Mac Parker>on the basis of unconventionally high standards. <v Jonathan Rutter>I felt that this was perhaps the wave of the future <v Jonathan Rutter>if we and other farmers were going to survive in the area. <v Mac Parker>The success of Vermont milk producers would depend on a subtle blending of reality
<v Mac Parker>and image. Judge recruited only farms he knew would fit his <v Mac Parker>demanding criteria. Member firms had to be family owned and operated. <v Mac Parker>The new company would market wholesomeness for all it was worth. <v Steve Judge>Consumers know where the milk comes from. <v Steve Judge>They can call and find out what the names of the farmer's kids are. <v Steve Judge>We then go beyond that and have identified concerns that consumers have about <v Steve Judge>the dairy industry, that the cows on the farms producing milk are well treated. <v Steve Judge>About the environmental impact of dairying on the land. <v Steve Judge>So we designed our production methods from start to finish to address <v Steve Judge>the concerns feeding once a day to the milkers. <v Paul Seiler>It's not something magic that we are doing. <v Paul Seiler>We're just trying to make good quality milk in a <v Paul Seiler>clean in an animal environmentally friendly atmosphere. <v Paul Seiler>It's it's it's not magical. <v Paul Seiler>And the magical part is trying to produce the product and then
<v Paul Seiler>market it and get paid more. <v Mac Parker>Judges personally signed guarantee on every carton announces the centerpiece <v Mac Parker>of his value added marketing campaign, quote, the best tasting <v Mac Parker>milk we can make. <v Steve Judge>Interestingly enough, since so probably the 1960s, there has been no emphasis <v Steve Judge>on flavor in the dairy industry. None flavor is a whole new dimension. <v Steve Judge>I don't know if you ever had a dream where you. <v Steve Judge>You walk into a room and off your house or apartment and so you enter a room you've never <v Steve Judge>seen before. Well, that's what flavor was to us. <v Steve Judge>We had never really dealt with it. <v Mac Parker>Following the common wisdom that milk flavor is closely related to two specific <v Mac Parker>laboratory measurements. Judge established the toughest testing standards <v Mac Parker>in Vermont. Even hired his own license field technician to expedite the <v Mac Parker>process. <v Steve Judge>Somatic cell count before the state is seven hundred and fifty thousand. <v Steve Judge>Our standards require that it be three hundred thousand and most of our farms <v Steve Judge>consistently come in around 100000 range.
<v Steve Judge>Now, in many cases, the amount of bacteria and produces milk is too low to count through <v Steve Judge>standard testing procedures. <v Steve Judge>Early on in this in the formulative stages of Vermont milk producers, it was <v Steve Judge>very clear that that we could make a high quality product. <v Steve Judge>We could get the farmers to produce it. <v Steve Judge>Getting that product to market was going to be the big question. <v Peter Lovis>The answer came in the form of Peter Luvvies, a savvy young Boston salesman, <v Peter Lovis>in search of a new marketing challenge. <v Peter Lovis>Not only do I think this is a product that would work, but <v Peter Lovis>I thought it was an important product that it should work. <v Peter Lovis>It was very important that it did happen. <v Peter Lovis>So I got into the mode of just whatever <v Peter Lovis>it took, just make this make this idea come to life. <v Steve Judge>Peter Canvased retail outlets in New York and in Boston and Providence and Hartford <v Steve Judge>found out what the mix of the sales were. <v Steve Judge>Did all our footwork to determine what what marketing opportunities and what numbers we
<v Steve Judge>might expect. We've proven that the structure works <v Steve Judge>to deliver the product to the market, and we've proven that people who will buy the milk. <v Mac Parker>Vermont milk producers currently buys two tanker loads of its members milk each <v Mac Parker>week, for which the farmers are paid a premium price. <v Mac Parker>The rest of the week's production is sold through conventional marketing and conventional <v Mac Parker>prices. <v Steve Judge>The reason we're able to do this is that all the milk from each individual <v Steve Judge>dairy farmer is not dedicated to our product. <v Steve Judge>We are essentially putting together a two tier pricing system where <v Steve Judge>we've got our base price, which is the regular market, six days a week, and then we have <v Steve Judge>AAB, our class one price, which is what the farmers get <v Steve Judge>when the milk goes into our cartons. It's just basically an attempt to get as large <v Steve Judge>a share of that price markup to the farmers as we possibly can. <v Steve Judge>It's fairly amazing. The increase of six cents on a half gallon of milk <v Steve Judge>is the equivalent of a dollar per hundredweight paid to the farm.
<v Steve Judge>Regular milk sells for a buck 45 on the shelf ourselves for a buck ninety nine. <v Steve Judge>So there's a lot of six senses in there. <v Steve Judge>We're one of the first entries into a whole new category of fluid milk. <v Jonathan Rutter>You are my friend. <v Jonathan Rutter>And I will see you next week. Yeah. <v Steve Judge>The big question was, would consumers buy it? <v Steve Judge>And consumers are buying it. <v Steve Judge>I think the hills look good. I think it's beautiful. <v Steve Judge>Can't we fill it full of milk? Right now, what we should be doing is going out and <v Steve Judge>looking for investors. We can't do that if we sold 51 percent of Vermont <v Steve Judge>milk producers to a group of venture capitalists. <v Steve Judge>The first thing they'd want to do is make Vermont milk producers profitable. <v Steve Judge>And the easiest way to do that is to pay the farmers less money. <v Steve Judge>So if the farmers are going to continue to profit through this, they've got to own the <v Steve Judge>company. All right. <v Jonathan Rutter>Two things. <v Mac Parker>At this early stage. The 20 farmer owners of Vermont milk producers
<v Mac Parker>measure success in terms of mere existence. <v Steve Judge>The ramifications of what we're doing is much greater than the impact of <v Steve Judge>the actual product itself. <v Steve Judge>We are completely swimming upstream in terms of the general wisdom of <v Steve Judge>the dairy industry. Right now, the rules of the game for dairy farmers are to produce <v Steve Judge>lots and lots of cheap milk. <v Steve Judge>If we can reintroduce new rules to the game here in the Northeast about <v Steve Judge>producing milk and marketing dairy products, we may be able to create a future <v Steve Judge>for Vermont dairy farmers for a few of them on dairy farmers anyway. <v Mac Parker>Despite its importance to our regional economy, agriculture is rewarding <v Mac Parker>fewer and fewer farmers with fewer dollars. <v Mac Parker>Yet the Vermont image, with its message of integrity and quality, still <v Mac Parker>offers opportunity to farmers savvy enough to bring superior Vermont <v Mac Parker>products to market.
The Farmington Project
Troubled Harvest: The Market
Producing Organization
WETK (Television station : Burlington, Vt.)
Vermont Educational Television
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Vermont Public Television (Colchester, Vermont)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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"'TROUBLED HARVEST: THE MARKET' is the third of five documentaries on farming, the industry which has most defined Vermont. This program deals with the intricacies of the agricultural marketplace related to selling Vermont farm products. An explanation of the unique economics of agriculture, and particularly dairy economics, gives viewers a better understanding of the current transformation of our regional farmscape. "Other programs examine the history of Vermont agriculture, the human challenges of farming, the role of technology, and the outlook for Vermont's farming future. "Promoted as 'THE FARMING PROJECT,' the overall series provides a basis for informed dialogue among Vermonters concerned with the current decline of regional agriculture and its significance to their lives."--1994 Peabody Awards entry form. This documentary focused on personal testimonies of successful and unsuccessful farmers and the problems they face when it comes to the lack of lucrativeness and political unity found in the farming industry.
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Producing Organization: WETK (Television station : Burlington, Vt.)
Producing Organization: Vermont Educational Television
Publisher: Vermont Public Television
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Vermont Public Television
Identifier: cpb-aacip-365eab45d03 (Filename)
Format: 1 inch videotape
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:58:00
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-aa0ead0719d (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 0:58:00
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Chicago: “The Farmington Project; Troubled Harvest: The Market,” 1994-11-02, Vermont Public Television, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “The Farmington Project; Troubled Harvest: The Market.” 1994-11-02. Vermont Public Television, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: The Farmington Project; Troubled Harvest: The Market. Boston, MA: Vermont Public Television, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from