McCaskill Part of Bipartisan Effort to Restore Critical Resources for Dairy Farmers
Senator works to support Dairy Farmers as feed costs increase in ongoing drought and as U.S. House refuses to act on Farm Bill
September 18, 2012
WASHINGTON - While the U.S. House of Representatives continues to delay any action on the bipartisan Farm Bill passed by the Senate, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is calling for the renewal of a key support system for Missouri's dairy farmers.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House John Boehner, McCaskill-along with twenty other members of Congress-is asking the leaders to find the necessary resources to restore the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC), which provides a safety net to dairy farmers during times of low milk prices and high input costs.
"Dairy farmers across the country have benefited from the MILC program during difficult times, and we fear that failure to maintain the program at its previous levels will saddle dairy farmers with significant risks as their feed prices continue to skyrocket," the Senators and Representatives wrote. "We stand ready to work with you to address this critical issue for our nation's dairy farmers."
With the nation's farmers still reeling from this summer's drought, input costs are rising while milk prices drop. MILC previously provided 45 percent of the difference between the target price and the actual price, but in early September this was cut to 34 percent of this difference - resulting in a significant loss of income for producers across Missouri.
New programs to support dairy farmers are included in the bipartisan Farm Bill passed by the Senate in June. However, the leadership in the House of Representatives has refused to allow a vote on the bill. McCaskill has championed the new dairy programs included in the Senate Farm Bill, and has repeatedly called on the House to support our struggling dairy farmers by passing this bill.
McCaskill has made fighting for Missouri's farmers and ranchers a top priority, writing to President Obama and Senate leaders in August seeking additional emergency aid for Missouri's agriculture community. In addition to providing important new protections for struggling dairy farmers, the bipartisan Farm Bill she helped to pass would reauthorize essential livestock disaster assistance programs, support agriculture jobs, strengthen resources for family farms and ranches, and reduce the national deficit by more than $23 billion.
A copy of the letter can be found on McCaskill's website, HERE.
Read the full text of the letter below.
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Boehner:
Given the mounting challenges facing our nation's dairy farmers, we write to bring a matter of particular concern to your attention.
On September 1, 2012, the Milk Income Loss Contract program, which has provided a vital safety net to dairy farmers across the country during times of low milk prices and high input costs, began to provide coverage at a reduced level. The level of coverage is so low that the program is not expected to be triggered even in these times of high feed prices. Most concerning to us is the change in the program's feed cost adjuster, which was created in the 2008 Farm Bill to address volatile swings in feed prices. This change in particular has put our farmers at far greater risk as this year's drought continues to impact much of the country and drive up the cost of feed. In addition, instead of offering dairy farmers coverage at 45 percent of the difference between the target price and the actual price, the program now only provides coverage at 34 percent of this difference. The program's volume cap has also declined, falling from 2.985 million to 2.4 million pounds per dairy farmer
We understand that the Senate-passed Farm Bill and the House Agriculture Committee's Farm Bill both move to eliminate the MILC program in favor of a new policy. However, until a new Farm Bill has been enacted and USDA has a dairy program in place, we urge you to find the necessary offsets to maintain the MILC program at its previous coverage levels for the duration of any extension of current policy. Dairy farmers across the country have benefited from the MILC program during difficult times and we fear that failure to maintain the program at its previous levels will saddle dairy farmers with significant risks as their feed prices continue to skyrocket.
Thank you for your consideration of our request. We stand ready to work with you to address this critical issue for our nation's dairy farmers.
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