October 09, 2009

(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen applauded the passage of the FY2010 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which included over $350 million in aid for dairy farmers who are struggling from historically low prices. Shaheen helped fight for an amendment in August to provide this funding for direct assistance to dairy farmers and to raise the amount they are paid for their milk.  

"We must preserve the nation's small and mid-sized dairy farms, and to do that we must provide them with assistance and increase the price of milk paid to farmers," said Shaheen. "I'm glad Congress acted to offer these farmers relief, and we will continue to look for long-term ways to reduce volatility in the market so that our dairy farms can survive."

The bill increases the Farm Service Agency budget by more than $350 million to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide $290 million in direct assistance to farmers and $60 million to purchase cheese and other dairy products for food banks.

The price farmers receive for their milk has fallen dramatically over the last year, plummeting 41 percent to $11.30 per hundredweight.  It costs farmers approximately $18 per hundredweight to produce milk.

The funding complements the swift action taken by Secretary Vilsack in August to make changes to the Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP). Since joining the Senate, Shaheen has met with Vilsack in New Hampshire, recommended former New Hampshire Commissioner of Agriculture and Plainfield resident Stephen Taylor to be appointed to the USDA's commission to review the federal milk marketing order system, sent a letter to Vilsack with 11 Senate colleagues urging for increases to the DPPSP, and met with Vilsack to reiterate the need for swift action. Secretary Vilsack made the requested changes to the DPPSP on July 31.

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