Dairy Farmers Appeal to Congress

July 21, 2009

1 Min Read
Dairy Farmers Appeal to Congress

WASHINGTON—U.S. dairy farmers are facing “an unprecedented financial catastrophe,” and Congress needs to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to work on measures to help farmers survive the situation, according to the National Milk Producers Federation, which testified July 14 at a hearing in the House of Representatives intended to examine causes and possible solutions to the economic crisis in dairy.

Tom Wakefield, a dairy farmer from Bedford, Pa., and an NMPF board member, testified that the sudden loss of export markets, due largely to the global economic crisis, has plunged farmers into financial crisis, as their prices have dropped along with lost export markets. “Because the U.S. market had gradually increased production to respond to the international market signals being sent in recent years that indicated higher demand for U.S. dairy products, U.S. producers found the rug pulled out from under them.”

He also discussed potential responses to the situation, reiterating NMPF’s request last month that USDA temporarily raise the purchase price levels for cheese and nonfat dry milk in order to return higher prices to farmers. In a letter sent June 26 to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, NMPF requested that the USDA raise the purchase price for cheese blocks from $1.13/lb. to $1.19; raise the purchase price for barrel cheese from $1.10 to $1.16/lb.; and raise the purchase price for nonfat dry milk powder from $0.80/lb. to $0.84.

Wakefield also asked that Congress work with the USDA to fully utilize the Dairy Export Incentive Program in the coming months, which can help export additional quantities of milk powder, cheese and butter.

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