NEW YORK – A primary safety net for NY farmers, known as the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program, expired Sunday. The loss of this program could hurt dairy farmers – especially smaller farms.
MILC checks help farmers in difficult times when milk prices fall below a certain level.
The 2008 Farm Bill expired on September 30, and the House of Representatives has not yet voted to pass the 2012 Farm Bill that would provide a safety net to farmers. The new margin insurance program provided by the bill, if it is passed, would give dairy farmers a level of certainty to know help is available for those who choose to take part in the program.
"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 percent of his milk check last month that he received for what he sold.
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.
"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 the new bill isn't passed by January first, 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.
A number of other Farm Bill programs important to all farmers and the people who buy their products would also either be scrapped or underfunded.
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