Co-op Distributes Suicide Prevention Letter with Milk Check

Agri-Mark Co-Operative, a farmer-owned dairy cooperative, recently sent a letter to its dairy farmer in last month’s milk checks.

“We have reached the halfway point of a particularly stressful winter while also facing falling milk prices,” the letter reads. “Farm families are incredibly resilient, but some members may want to take advantage of helpful programs where they can talk with experts about work and financial stress, depression and anxiety, grief counseling, substance abuse and family relationship issues.”

In providing the information, the co-op wanted “to get ahead of the curve” in offering vital services to its member farmers, said Doug DiMento, a spokesman for Agri-Mark, which owns Cabot and McCadam cheese.  “There have been at least three suicides of its member farmers in recent years,” Mr. DiMento said.

Dean Foods Cancels Contracts

Approximately 120 dairy farms in 8 states received notice from Dean Foods that their contracts for milk processing would be canceled as of May 31st.  The reason given is “a tight cash position,” according to a press release from the cooperative. “The decision to reduce the announced advance price was driven strictly by cash availability. We are pursuing a new credit facility that is better suited to meet the needs of our evolving business model.”

In an interview with the Chambersburg Public Opinion News, Reace Smith, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Dean Foods, said, “The fluid milk market has always been competitive, but we’re in unprecedented times. Our decision was an incredibly difficult one and a step that we worked very hard to avoid.  We will provide farmers with resources to help them connect with counselors if needed.”

We will, of course, keep you posted on any developments in the industry going forward.

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