07.31.09

Statement At Press Conference On USDA Price Support Announcement

As Prepared

We are here today to applaud this morning’s announcement by Secretary Vilsack of an increase in the Dairy Price Support Program.  

Senator Kohl and I led a group of more than 20 Senators in advocating for this quick increase in the federal floor for dairy prices.  Secretary Vilsack became our partner in getting this done, and we are grateful that dairy farmers have a true ally at USDA.

Two days ago we organized a meeting with those Senators to press the Secretary for a quick decision.  With today’s announcement it is clear he heard our voices.

The dairy industry is in a state of crisis.  In my state of Vermont dairy farmers are facing the lowest prices in nearly 30 years.  This assistance is desperately needed and it is the fastest and most direct short-term step that’s available to stop the bleeding.

Government dairy purchases are part of the overall safety net, but in this case we also want these purchases to be a catalyst to help stabilize the downward spiral in milk prices.   

The MILC program has been important - it is projected to provide over $30 million to Vermont this year and over $1 billion nationwide.  But clearly more market help was need for dairy producers.

We will continue to push for other relief but those steps will take longer.

So today’s announcement to increase the price support program by nearly 20 percent is a welcome step forward to halt the downward slide of dairy prices.  And we appreciate the responsiveness and quick work of Secretary Vilsack and the Administration.

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Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693