U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack tried to alleviate concerns from dairy producers impacted by the drought. In a meeting at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. with the National Farmers Union, Vilsack said passage of a new farm bill will put some new tools in place to help dairy producers, and a new structure will provide greater protections than before. “It will basically create an analysis of feed costs and milk costs, and if it goes below a certain level, government support kicks in automatically,” he told the group, adding that USDA is working on new feed products and cost reduction measures for dairy farmers.
Members of NFU told Vilsack that there were fewer tools for assistance than three years ago, when low sales prices hit producers. “Since January, in my state, dairymen have been running red ink. The drought has made things even worse with feed costs,” Joe Augusto of the California Farmers Union told the secretary.
Passage of a new farm bill might be back in the works, since Congress has returned from its August recess. The current farm bill expires at the end of September.