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  • Sixty members of Congress signed a letter to USDA secretary Tom Vilsack, seeking assistance for dairy producers struggling with declining milk prices. Specifically, the lawmakers – primarily Democrats, and Republicans representing Northeast U.S. states – asked USDA to use its authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation to expand and maintain U.S. domestic markets.

    ”We encourage USDA to take any and all actions available in order to make an immediate market injection and offer financial assistance that will directly support U.S. dairy farmers equally, while being cautious to not stimulate overproduction further,” the letter stated.

    It cited several factors leading to the ongoing dairy “crisis,” including increased milk production in the U.S. and other major milk-producing countries, the loss of the export market in Russia, and the European Union’s decision to remove milk production quotas.

    Those factors have led to a 40 percent decline in milk prices since 2014, according to the letter.

    “I have witnessed firsthand the struggle that dairy farmers around the country face with decreasing milk prices,” said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut). “As milk prices have steadily declined over the last half century, Connecticut has seen its dairy industry shrink from over 800 farms to about 150 today. Reopening or starting a new dairy farm is a herculean task, which is why when one closes, more often than not, no farm will replace it. The American dairy industry is an integral part of our agriculture economy and as we face yet another milk crisis, it is more important than ever for the Department of Agriculture to lend a hand to our dairy farmers before it’s too late.”

    “Our dairy farms and the hardworking families that keep them running in communities in Vermont and across the nation are enduring an extremely tough summer as prices have plunged to a nearly ten-year low, well below the cost of production,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), a member of the Senate ag committee. “This comes on the heels of a very challenging spring, and I am deeply concerned that the current price forecasts remain dire for our farmers. That is why we have come together, Democrats and Republicans from across the country, to call on USDA to act with urgency, using every tool and authority at their disposal, to help our struggling dairy farmers. They cannot wait. They need our help now.”

    "As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I have made it my priority to support Pennsylvania dairy farmers,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania). “The dairy industry, which contributes more than $4 billion to our state's agricultural economy each year, is the Commonwealth's top agricultural sector. These farmers deserve our help in a challenging economic time, and we must do everything we can to ensure their stability and support."

    “Wisconsin dairy farmers work hard every day moving our economy forward, so we need to do everything we can to reward their hard work by giving them a fair shot at getting ahead,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin). “Keeping our economy strong means ensuring our rural communities and farms make it through this challenging time for the dairy industry.”

    "The challenges in the U.S. dairy industry have been mounting as milk prices remain low and dairy price programs have failed to work as intended,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union. “The need for immediate aid that directly supports family dairy farmers is at a critical tipping point, and I applaud the efforts of these Congressional champions for family dairy farmers in taking this important first step.”  PD

    Dave Natzke
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  • The USDA Risk Management Agency’s Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy (LGM-Dairy) program remains one of the better tools to protect dairy incomes, according to Alan Zepp, risk management program manager at Pennsylvania's Center for Dairy Excellence.

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  • The Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, administered by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), is assuming management of the Farm Smart Program, previously managed by Dairy Management Inc.

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