WASHINGTON – As the U.S. Senate gets set to again take up the Farm Bill in the coming weeks, New York Junior Senator Senator is saying there needs to be long-term support and a fair safety net for small dairy farmers in New York State and across the country.
This week, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced a plan that would do just that. In a media release sent out on Tuesday, Gillibrand said the bipartisan Gillibrand-Collins Dairy Pricing Reform Act will reform the way the United States Department of Agriculture sets dairy prices.
The Farm Bill that passed the Senate last fall included many programs to help New York farmers, but the House of Representatives failed to complete their work on the bill, and none of the new programs became law.
Gillibrand said that while dairy remains New York’s leading agricultural product – producing nearly 13 billion pounds for a value of $2.75 billion – dairy farmers are suffering from a range of setbacks. High fuel costs, and severe grain and hay shortages continue to push up the cost of production, yet the price paid to farmers remains stagnant.
As a result of the loss in business from flawed policy, dairy farms across New York State are forced to cut resources, and sell off cows. Nearly 65,000 cows were lost from New York dairy farms from 2002 to 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
To prevent further problems for dairy farmers, Gill Senator Gillibrand and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) will be introducing the Dairy Pricing Reform Act next week when the Senate returns to session.
The bill forces the USDA to begin the hearing process to restructure the pricing system and direct the Secretary of Agriculture to release the Department’s recommendations to Congress. This bill also builds on language Senator Gillibrand secured in the Senate Farm Bill (S. 10) that requires the USDA to study different methods of determining prices, including competitive pay pricing or shifting from a 4 class system to a 2 class system.