HARRISBURG, Pa. — With Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers continuing to struggle with low milk prices and rising debt, Gov. Edward G. Rendell is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation to act quickly and help ease the crisis.
“Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers are struggling with a price crisis, the likes of which we have never seen before,” said Rendell. “This risks serious damage to our dairy producers, our consumers and the state’s economy. It is my hope that the USDA and Congress will act quickly to release critical dollars that will help our farmers gain a financial foothold.”
More help needed
Rendell is calling on USDA to provide support to Pennsylvania’s 8,600 dairy farm families by releasing $290 million in dairy payments this month that is authorized under the 2010 federal agriculture appropriations bill.
The funding will enable producers to continue their dairy operations during this very difficult economic time. In addition, Rendell asked Congress to encourage USDA to immediately make $60 million in cheese purchases to benefit the nation’s emergency food programs. This would raise the price of cheese and aid dairy producers, while also helping Pennsylvanians who are food insecure.
Risk management programs
To help producers manage unpredictable fluctuations in the prices of dairy products, Rendell also requested consideration of a federal subsidy that would enable dairy producers to enroll in risk management programs like Livestock Gross Margin, or LGM, for Dairy. LGM for Dairy is an insurance option that helps farmers manage risk and protect their income.
The program ensures the margin between the cost of feed and price of milk. Producers who are enrolled in the program can insure their margin and protect themselves from wild swings in the price of milk or feed.