Dairy farm safety net dies with farm bill
The USDA has neither the authority nor the resources to help these folks out, Vilsack said of the dairy farmers.
A version of the farm bill passed by the Senate in June and a similar one approved by the House Agriculture Committee in July would replace MILC with a program that aims to stabilize milk prices by controlling some of the supply. It also would allow farmers to buy insurance that pays out when the gap between the wholesale price of milk and their expenses gets too narrow.
MILC included a slight adjustment for feed prices.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said it was ‘‘pretty outrageous’’ that a bill wasn’t passed in time to help dairy farmers. He voted for the House version in committee and was among a group of 79 House members who sent a bipartisan letter to House leaders in July, urging them to bring it up for a vote.
‘‘This farm bill, one of the very good provisions in it, is that we passed the dairy stabilization that was authored by Vermont farmers. And that would provide them with more price stability and cost tax payers less money — a pretty good thing,’’ he said.
Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., who serves on the House Agriculture Committee with Welch, said he supports the new insurance program because it includes affordable premiums for small and medium-sized farmers.
He said the Republican leadership felt there wasn’t enough time to pass a bill of this complexity before the recess.
He said he’s not hearing from farmers in his district in northern Wisconsin because they anticipate some fix to occur during the lame duck session, he said.
‘‘Either the farm bill will get passed or current farm policy at current funding levels will get extended. One of those two scenarios will happen. I'm very confident of that,’’ Ribble said.
Meanwhile, Gorder said farmers are waiting for some kind of break.
‘‘My only hope is there’s a drought that we only have to deal with one year, and this time next year, we'll have a farm bill and we'll have some certainty and we'll have rain,’’ he said. ‘‘And not necessarily in that order. I'll take the rain.’’