SALEM, Ohio — More money may be on the way to help dairy farmers, but whether or not they see it in time to stay afloat could be the question.
The U.S. Senate, still in session last week, passed an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to provide an extra $350 million for milk price supports by a vote of 60 to 37.
However, the House of Representatives had already adjourned for the summer recess after passing their own agriculture appropriations bill, so the two chambers could not combine forces to create one bill.
This means that milk producers will have to wait until both the House and Senate reconvene in September, when a conference committee will be formed to combine the House bill and Senate bill into one.
The big difference between the House bill and the Senate bill is the $350 million appropriated for dairy farmers in the Senate bill. It would provide an estimated $1.50 extra per hundredweight for dairy producers through the dairy support program, if passed.
Last week, the USDA increased dairy purchases through the dairy support program.
USDA is increasing the amount paid for dairy products on nonfat dry milk from 80 cents per pound to 92 cents per pound. The price paid for cheddar blocks from $1.13 per pound to $1.31 per pound and the price of cheddar barrels from $1.10 per pound to $1.28 per pound.
This money included in the Senate bill will mean more money for dairy farmers above the increase by the USDA. The Senate bill would allow the USDA to raise the support price for nonfat dry milk from 92 cents per pound to 97 cents per pound . The floor for cheddar blocks would go from $1.31 to $1.40 per pound and the price for cheddar barrels would increase from $1.28 to $1.37.
Sanders’ communications director Michael Briggs said the committee will convene in September and the hope is that a compromise will be made in time for the new fiscal year, which begins in October.
“We need to start getting this money out to the farmers,” Briggs said.