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Reaction Of Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch To The Bush Administration's Dairy Proposals For The 2007 Farm Bill

January 31, 2007
Press Release

Washington, DC -- The Bush Administration Wednesday outlined the President's proposals for the new Farm Bill that Congress will be working on this year.  The Administration proposes continuing the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program -- which was established in the last Farm Bill under the leadership of the Vermont Congressional Delegation - but with reduced help to farmers.  Under the Administration's proposal, dairy producers would continue to be eligible to receive assistance if the Class I price in Boston in any month falls below $16.94 per cwt.  For FY 2008, the proposed payment rate would remain at the current rate of 34 percent of the difference between $16.94 per cwt and the Class I price in Boston.  But in subsequent years, the payment rate would be cut to 31 percent in FY 2009, 28 percent in FY 2010, 25 percent in FY 2011, 22 percent in FY 2012, and 20 percent in FY 2013-2017.  The Bush Administration's plan also would reduce the eligible quantity of milk to 85 percent of the 3-year average of milk marketed during Fiscal Years 2004-06.  Following are the comments of the members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation on the President's MILC Program proposals:

Sen. Patrick Leahy:  "The Administration's proposal is a first step forward on dairy, but unfortunately it's a small first step.  I welcome that the President's proposal includes an extension of the MILC Program.  But it falls far short by disregarding the low milk prices, high feed costs and soaring fuel expenses that dairy farmers are facing.  Scaling back the MILC Program while farmers are under siege is shortsighted and counterproductive.  I will continue to work with Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch, along with our allies on the Agriculture Committee and in the Senate, to build on the Administration's proposal."

Sen. Bernie Sanders:  "While I am certainly pleased that the Administration at least acknowledges the need for the MILC Program, it is clear that they just do not understand the scope of the crisis dairy farmers are facing.  We should be trying to improve the federal safety net for family dairy farmers, not dismantling it.  As Congress considers the Farm Bill, I look forward to working with Senator Leahy and Congressman Welch to preserve and improve federal protections for family farmers in Vermont and across this country."

Rep. Peter Welch:  "I am encouraged the Administration's proposal includes an extension of MILC, but I am troubled by their lack of long-term commitment to this important program.  I view the Administration's proposal as only a starting point from which to begin the hard work we face.  The 2007 Farm Bill absolutely must address the importance of local Vermont-scale dairy farming, as well as opportunities for diversification and other farm-based revenue.  I look forward to working with Senators Leahy and Sanders and my colleagues in the House to help assure a Farm Bill that helps our hard-working Vermont farmers."