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MINNESOTA DAIRIES LAUNCH EMERGENCY CAMPAIGN TO CHANGE 'DEVASTATING' MILK PRICE LAWS -- TRUCKS FORCED TO LEAVE FOR OUT-OF-STATE DAIRY FARMS

 MINNEAPOLIS, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of trucks from Minnesota milk bottlers are driving to Wisconsin, South and North Dakota and Iowa to purchase milk from out-of-state dairy farms this week, as Minnesota dairies launch an emergency campaign to change a state milk price law that they describe as "devastating" to Minnesota dairy farmers and bottlers.
 The local bottlers are urging dairy farmers to "bring the trucks back to Minnesota," by asking state legislators to quickly pass a bill that would make Minnesota milk prices competitive with milk from out-of- state.
 "None of the dairies want to buy their milk from other states," said Richard Meyer, president of Meyer Brothers Dairy and chairperson for the Dairies Federation of Minnesota.
 "We all support a fair pay price for Minnesota dairy farmers. As of March 16, each Minnesota bottler is being forced by simple economics to truck milk in from Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota dairy farms," said Meyer.
 "The Minnesota law requires dairies to pay Minnesota farmers a price so much higher than the Federal Milk Marketing Order price that Minnesota bottlers can no longer afford to buy Minnesota milk," added Meyer. "Each Minnesota bottler has only three choices: meet the competition from other states and lose money; hand business over to out- of-state competitors; or purchase milk from out-of-state sources.
 "Obviously, this will have devastating long-term consequences for dairy farmers in Minnesota. With currently tight price margins, the milk law also threatens the jobs of thousands of employees working for dairy companies operating within Minnesota."
 Bottlers from Iowa, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and even Illinois are already visiting Minnesota retailers, said Meyer. These out-of-state firms are offering to sell milk at prices that Minnesota-based dairies will not be able to meet, unless the Minnesota companies choose to lose money on every sale.
 The state law originally required Minnesota-based bottlers to pay a premium to Minnesota farmers for the milk they bought in other states. But U.S. District Judge David Doty threw out that provision in December 1992 as a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Interstate Commerce Clause.
 Minnesota milk cooperatives have prepared legislation to solve the pricing problems caused by the current law. Bottlers say that the Cooperative Dairy Price bill would help set milk premiums at levels compatible with market conditions.
 Dairy bottlers also note that the Cooperative Dairy Price bill would eliminate the creation of a massive administrative system for handling Minnesota price supports. That expensive bureaucracy would further erode dairy farmer benefits, bottlers say, and drive up consumer prices for bottled milk.
 The Dairies Federation of Minnesota is an association of Minnesota firms which bottle milk and sell it to grocers and consumers. Before the current law on milk pricing, the federation members provided more than 90 percent of the milk sold in the state.
 -0- 3/17/93
 /CONTACT: Cathryn I. Kennedy or Paul Maccabee, both of Mona Meyer McGrath & Gavin, 612-832-5000, for the Dairies Federation of Minnesota/


CO: Dairies Federation of Minnesota ST: Minnesota IN: AGR SU:

KH -- MN002 -- 6950 03/17/93 10:12 EST
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Date:Mar 17, 1993
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