National Farmers Union (NFU) praise several lawmakers for their support of critically needed assistance for the nation’s dairy sector. Two letters, championed by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), were sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership, respectively, requesting direct financial aid to farmers and broader authority for the USDA to assist dairy producers.
“I cannot emphasize enough how severe the situation is for America’s dairy farmers; too many producers have lost or are desperately close to losing their farms. NFU is appreciative of our friends in Congress who have echoed the requests made by our members during our September Legislative Fly-In, asking for critically-needed and immediate assistance for the nation’s dairy producers,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.
As both letters explain, the Dairy Margin Protection Program (DMPP) has not provided the safety net needed to cope with this decline, and as a result, additional avenues for direct assistance must be explored to help struggling dairy farmers.
“Despite current budgetary constraints and the need for future statutory changes, we believe that there are key measures that can be taken in appropriations legislation for FY17 that will provide critical near-term support to dairy farmers and pave the way for longer-term sustainability in the industry,” Sen. Shaheen and 17 lawmakers wrote in the letter to leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
In addition, the letter’s signers requested:
– The removal of provisions from FY17 spending legislation that restrict USDA Secretary Vilsack’s ability to effectively respond to this crisis under Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935 or engage in price support activities under Section 5 of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act.
– The designation of $3 million from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) budget for a state dairy feed costs survey.
– Further exploration of feasible solutions for the cash-strapped dairy farmers who paid $73 million into the DMPP in 2015 and received limited financial support in return.