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Sen. Schumer Asks For Assistance

Democrat Sends Letter To Federal Government Seeking Help For Dairy Farms

July 6, 2009
Observer Today
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, in a personal letter to Tom Vilsack, federal agriculture secretary, is asking the U.S. government to increase the prices paid for dairy products purchased through the Dairy Product Price Support Program by 5 percent. Schumer said such a move is an important way to help struggling dairy farmers throughout New York state immediately while a long-term solution to low milk prices is established. A decreased demand, an abundant supply and soaring production costs have caused the price of dairy products to decrease dramatically to less than $12 per 100 pounds in recent months, while at the same time the cost of producing 100 pounds of milk in New York was more than $25, throwing dairy farmers everywhere into crisis. Schumer is urging prices be raised to at least $1.19 per pound for block cheese, $1.16 per pound for barrel cheese and 84 cents a pound for nonfat dry milk. Schumer wrote in support of a proposal made by the National Milk Producers Federation. “We all know that Dairy Farmers are facing a crisis in New York state and across the country,” Schumer said. “We need to address this problem both in the long term by increasing and improving the MILC program, but we also need to take actions that can help immediately. Raising the price that the Department of Agriculture pays for commodities is a great way to help farmers, and is something that can have an immediate effect. Secretary Vilsack has acknowledged the severity of the crisis, and I urge him to take immediate action.” Under the Dairy Product Price Support Program, the USDA serves as a buyer of last resort to help clear commodity dairy markets during periods of exceptionally low farm-level prices. The current price levels were written into the 2008 Farm Bill, passed by Congress a year ago, but the USDA has the authority to increase those prices. “Bolstering the price support program will be particularly helpful to New York’s 6,000 dairy farmers, who are a major source of employment upstate, but who also are suffering from a severe downturn in their prices,” said Jerry Kozak, president and chief executive officer of the National Milk Producers Federation. “We appreciate Sen. Schumer’s support of NMPF’s request.” Since last summer, the domestic dairy industry in Upstate New York has been grappling with a serious imbalance which threatens the stability and future of American dairy farmers. Falling domestic prices combined with relatively high input costs have put an extraordinary strain on the entire dairy sector. The global economic crisis has further exacerbated these challenges by reducing international demand, which has diminished the price that dairy farmers can receive for their milk. In his letter, Schumer wrote: “It is imperative that USDA acts now to help dairy producers weather this crisis. In extreme cases, dairy producers are losing their farms, causing significant disruption to the economy in rural communities across the state. Unless USDA takes immediate action to increase dairy prices, New York will lose more dairy producers to bankruptcy and foreclosure.”

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Sen. Charles Schumer

Fact Box

“Raising the price that the Department of Agriculture pays for commodities is a great way to help farmers, and is something that can have an immediate effect.” • Sen. Charles Schumer D-N.Y.


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