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NYFB weighs in on Farm Bill delay
October 1, 2012 - Chris Morris
The 2008 Farm Bill officially expired yesterday after the House of Representatives failed to bring its 2012 version to the floor for a vote.
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and his Republican challenger in this fall's election, Watertown businessman Matt Doheny, both support the new legislation, while Green Party candidate Don Hassig has stated he would support it if it did more to protect animals from "factory farming." But House leadership never scheduled a vote on the bill, and it may not be discussed until after the Nov. 6 election.
The New York Farm Bureau issued a statement this morning condemning Congress for letting the legislation expire. The organization said dairy farmers will feel an immediate impact because the Milk Income Loss Contract program expired along with the 2008 bill.
"This event has the potential to hurt every dairy farmer, but it will especially hit the smallest of farmers the hardest," the statement says. "Their MILC checks help them in difficult times when milk prices fall below a certain level." Here's more from that release:
“There is enough uncertainty in the dairy industry not to have a safety net in place,” said Jefferson County Farm Bureau President Mike Kiechle who also runs a small dairy farm of about 100 cows. He estimates the MILC money was about 10% of his milk check last month that he received for what he sold.
All of this comes at a time when dairy farmers are already facing huge hurdles. From last year’s flooding to this year’s drought, feed prices are skyrocketing. Milk prices are also significantly lower. In August, the average dairy farmer received $18.30 for 100 gallons of milk, which is $5.20 less than they received just one year ago. The expiration may leave some farmers with difficult decisions to make like whether to thin their herd or, in some cases, decide if it is even worth it to keep farming.
“New York Farm Bureau has lobbied hard for passage of the 2012 Farm Bill with strong support from the New York Congressional delegation. Farmers should not be political pawns. The uncertainty in moving forward not only puts their way of life in jeopardy, but it also threatens the food supply of every citizen,” said Dean Norton, NYFB President.
If something isn’t done by January first, more impacts could be felt far beyond the farm fences. The federal milk pricing structure will resort back to “permanent law” from the 1940’s. That means fluid milk prices would more than double forcing consumers to pay twice as much for a gallon of milk than they are today, according the American Farm Bureau Federation. It’s a price few would be willing or capable of paying potentially upsetting the delicate supply and demand of milk. In addition, a number of other Farm Bill programs important to all farmers and the people who buy their products would either be scrapped or underfunded.
NYFB has worked closely with the New York Congressional delegation, including Reps. Chris Gibson and Bill Owens who successfully helped pass a bipartisan bill out of the House Agriculture Committee, and we encourage a quick solution in the full House when lawmakers return after the November general election. This should not be put off for a new Congress to negotiate next year that could result in even more cuts. Hard working New York farm families deserve a Farm Bill now.
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