Gillibrand, Schumer seek federal funds to help struggling dairy farmers

Staff Reports Posted 20 October 2016 at 4:34 pm
Photo by Tom Rivers: A cow is pictured recently at Post Farms in Elba.

Photo by Tom Rivers: A cow is pictured recently at Post Farms in Elba.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have been joined by several other senators in seeking federal appropriators to include funding for dairy farmers across the nation in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

Specifically, the senators in the bipartisan letter requested appropriators to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to refund farmers for the $73 million that they paid into the Dairy Margin Protection Program (DMPP) in 2015.

The senators are also calling on the committee to allow the USDA to provide emergency assistance to dairy farmers and take greater action to support dairy producers by excluding any provision preventing the USDA from implementing clause 3 of Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935 or from engaging in surplus removal and price support activities under section 5 of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act.

Gillibrand and Schumer have been joined by Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Angus King Jr. (I-ME), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D- NH), Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Chris S. Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kelly A. Ayotte (R-NH), Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D- RI) in sending a bipartisan letter, seeking release of the federal funds.

“As you know, dairy farmers across the country are struggling to stay in business.  This year alone, dairy farms in a number of states have been forced to close at alarmingly high levels,” the senators wrote in their joint letter. “The Dairy Margin Protection Program has not provided the safety net for farmers that was anticipated when the program was created. We believe that there are key measures that can be taken that will provide critical near-term support to cash-strapped dairy farmers and pave the way for longer-term sustainability in the industry.”

Milk prices have dropped by more than 40 percent over the past two years, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicts low prices to continue for the near future. Dairy production costs continue to rise, and severe drought in some regions of the country has driven costs up further.

The letter concludes with the senators imploring the Appropriations Committee “to help our nation’s dairy farmers during this crisis.”

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