Tricounty News

Klobuchar announces additional help for Minnesota's dairy farmers



Says price support measure will immediately help family dairy farms

Continuing her efforts to help Minnesota's dairy farmers struggling with plummeting dairy prices, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced Friday, July 31, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will increase the amount paid for dairy products through the Dairy Product Price Support Program. Klobuchar and House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson have long pushed for this change.

During the last week of July, Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and other dairy state senators met with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to push for the change.  Earlier in July, Klobuchar and other senators, including Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Herb Kohl (D-WI), also wrote to Secretary Vilsack calling for the temporary boost to the federal price support program.

"Across Minnesota, dairy farmers have been stung by rising production costs and falling product prices," said Klobuchar. "Today's announcement of immediate relief for dairy farmers will help them during this crisis by providing targeted support to help stabilize prices. Along with Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson I will continue to advocate for Minnesota's dairy farmers during these difficult times."

According to the Department of Agriculture, the federal price supports will be in effect from August 2009 through October 2009, increasing farmers' revenue by $243 million and giving dairy farmers immediate relief from low dairy prices.

The increase announced today will raise the price paid for nonfat dry milk from $0.80 per pound to $0.92 per pound, the price paid for cheddar blocks from $1.13 per pound to $1.31 per pound, and the price of cheddar barrels from $1.10 per pound to $1.28 per pound.

The Department of Agriculture estimates that today's announcement is expected to increase the all milk price received by dairy producers. The increase will result in the government purchase of an additional 150 million pounds of non-fat dry milk (NDM) and an additional 75 million pounds of cheese.

Over the last several months, Klobuchar has successfully pushed for several measures to assist dairy farmers.

In February, she joined with other senators to send a letter to Secretary Vilsack asking him to take action to help stabilize prices and protect Minnesota's farmers from the rapidly declining milk prices. Then, at a White House Middle-Class Task Force meeting in St. Cloud in March, Klobuchar strongly urged the Agriculture Secretary to provide help to Minnesota dairy farmers as soon as possible. Shortly after the meeting, Klobuchar announced that the Department of Agriculture would create a program to purchase dairy products from the market and provide them to food shelf programs in order to stabilize prices and boost demand, effectively leveling the playing field for U.S. dairy producers.

In May, after working with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Agriculture, Klobuchar announced that the Department of Agriculture would launch a program to help dairy exporters compete with world prices, which are kept artificially low through subsidies.

News update: Tuesday, Aug. 4, Tri-County News latest report from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is that the amendment she cosponsored with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders passed the U.S. Senate. "Dairy farmers across Minnesota are hurting right now," said Klobuchar. "We need to support them during these difficult economic times. This legislation is another important step to provide additional relief for our dairy farmers."

The amendment provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture with $350 million in additional funds. This change would bring about an additional $1.50 per hundredweight to struggling farmers.