Thursday, April 15, 2010

Franken Urges Support For Struggling Minnesota Dairy Farmers

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) urged U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to take quick action in response to disastrously low milk prices. Minnesota’s dairy farmers are still struggling to recover from last year’s historic low prices and milk prices are projected to remain below the cost of production. Sen. Franken joined 21 of his colleagues in a letter to Secretary Vilsack outlining potential solutions to help struggling dairy farmers.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand how Minnesota’s dairy producers are struggling as a result of this economic crisis,” said Sen. Franken. “There are a lot of different ways we can help our farmers. I’m going to continue to work with Secretary Vilsack and the USDA to make sure we are exploring all of them, so Minnesota’s dairy producers get the help they need.”

The USDA took several proactive steps in response to low dairy prices last year. Similar actions should be taken this year, such as continuing the Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP), expediting DEIP payments and using the Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP) to bolster the falling prices for non-fat dried milk, barrel cheese, and cheddar block cheese. In 2009, the USDA helped increase market prices without causing product acquisitions by the Commodity Credit Corporation by temporarily raising support prices. In that instance, the USDA was able to help dairy farmers earn a higher market price for their products without having to purchase cheese at the increased prices. The USDA could take the same action today to temporarily increase market prices to aid dairy producers, without incurring the costs of a purchase.

To view the letter sent to Secretary Vilsack click here:

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