Gov. Rendell urges Milk Marketing Board to help dairy producers

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — With Pennsylvania’s milk producers facing prices that are 40 percent lower than a year ago, Gov. Edward G. Rendell has written to the state’s Milk Marketing Board asking for their recommendations on how to help dairy farmers survive the unprecedented financial hardships.

Bearing the brunt

“Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers are bearing the brunt of historically low milk prices, coupled with historically high production costs,” said Governor Rendell. “The crisis is forcing dairy herds to be sold and farmers to cease operations, some of which have been family-owned and operated for decades. This crisis has thrown the largest sector of Pennsylvania agriculture into a free fall from which recovery remains uncertain at this time.

“Efforts are underway at the national level to address pricing and supply issues, but in Pennsylvania, the Milk Marketing Board can act to provide relief from these challenges and ensure our milk producers earn a reasonable return and profit for their hard work.”

Analysis

In a letter to the board’s members, Rendell requested an analysis and set of recommendations in the next 30 days that will outline what more the board can do at the state level to address the milk price collapse.

Under state law, the board is responsible for protecting the state’s dairy industry and is charged with setting prices based upon all conditions affecting the milk market, including the amount necessary to yield a reasonable return to the producer.

In July, Rendell, along with the governors of seven Northeastern states, called on U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to offer dairy producers debt forgiveness or a six-month extension on interest for USDA loans.

The governor has also directed the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to work with members of Congress, the General Assembly and the dairy industry to mitigate the damage to milk producers statewide.

Beyond their control

“Too many Pennsylvania producers are struggling because of conditions beyond their control,” said Rendell. “We need to use all of our authority at the state and federal levels to take immediate action ensuring Pennsylvania’s dairy industry remains competitive nationwide.”

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