Milk price safety net may continue

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SALEM, Ohio – Ohio and Pennsylvania dairy farmers may continue to get help with their milk check.
A U.S. Senate committee voted Sept. 21 to extend the federal Milk Income Loss Contract program an extra two years. It is set to run out next year, but if the extension is approved by the House, Senate and president, it will last until the next farm bill’s negotiations in 2007.
The program pays farmers when the milk price falls below $16.94 a hundredweight. The most current legislation, however, raises that trigger price to $17.10 a hundredweight.
“We’ve successfully moved the MILC extension out of the shop and onto the track,” said sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. “We still have several challenges ahead of us, but this was the most difficult one.”
Since the program began with the 2002 farm bill, more than $76 million has been shelled out in Ohio and almost $180 million in Pennsylvania. Across the country, farmers have received more than $2 billion, according to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
Ohio Dairy Producers. This legislation, however, does not raise the production cap, which disappointed Ohio Dairy Producers’ Tim Demland.
Currently, farmers receive the subsidies for the first 2.4 million pounds of milk they produce and market each year. That is approximately the equivalent to the production of a 150-head dairy.
Demland had hoped that cap would be increased so farmers with more cows and higher production would be eligible for more payments.
These smaller farms may be able to receive subsidies all year, while a larger farm can only receive them a few months, Demland said.
Multigenerations. On the other hand, Demland was happy to see legislators removed language that limits multigenerational farms.
For example, currently family members who have separate operations but house their animals together are considered one entity and can only receive one payment.
With the new legislation, however, both families could collect payments and reach the 2.4 million-pound cap separately.
The measure is now waiting for a vote in the Senate.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 23 or by e-mail at khebert@farmanddairy.com.)

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