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Schumer calls for more payments to dairy farmers

September 4, 2009
By NATHAN BROWN, Enterprise Staff Writer

Although there are a number of longer-term ways to deal with the record-low milk prices dairy farmers are getting, long-term solutions take too long.

"We're going to have hundreds of dairy farms go under in the next three or four months unless there (are) immediate, quick results from Washington," U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said in a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon.

Schumer said federal Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack should use his authority as head of the Commodity Credit Corporation to more than double the payments already made to dairy farmers under the Milk Income Loss Contract program. Vilsack has the authority with the CCC to support prices of agricultural commodities with direct payments to farmers, Schumer said.

"The beauty of this is, the secretary of agriculture can do this with the flick of a pen," Schumer said.

Schumer said he has spoken to Vilsack about it. If this happens, farmers in the North Country would get $73 million over the next six months. Currently, the market price of milk paid to dairy farmers is $11 per hundredweight (100 pints), far less than the $23 per hundredweight needed to produce it.



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