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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 12, 2005

As MILC Program Expires, Schumer Engages New Bipartisan Campaign To Renew Program That Protects Upstate NY Dairy Farmers

New Analysis Reveals NY’s Dairy Farmers Have Received $180 million Through Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program

Senator Pushes For MILC Program Extension in Agriculture Budget Reconciliation Act, Launches Aggressive Personal Lobbying Effort To Get Renewal In Bill, Urges Ag Secretary To Step-Up Pressure

Schumer Details Payments in Each Region; Capital Region Dairy Farmers have Received $20.9

Each New York dairy farmer could lose an important safety net that has provided an average of $32,000 in payments if a federal program is not immediately renewed, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer explained today. Schumer discussed new plans to renew the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program, that has served as a safety net for dairy farmers, protecting them from wildly fluctuating milk prices. The MILC program officially expired on September 30th and without a legislative extension all payments will be terminated.

“With gas prices through the roof, New York’s dairy farmers are having a hard enough time and deserve a helping hand,” Schumer said. “Unfortunately, there are economic conditions we cannot control when it comes to the price of milk. The good news is we can help farmers endure the financial risks caused by unstable prices. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and leave no stone unturned until we get this program funded again.”

Introduced in the 2002 Farm Bill, the MILC program has helped dairy farms to survive artificially low prices by providing over $180 million in benefits to New York farmers. The current MILC program provides payments to eligible dairy farmers when the price of Boston Class I milk falls below $16.94 per hundredweight (cwt). Payments are issued for up to a maximum of 2.4 million pounds of milk per dairy operation per year.

Schumer today released county-by-county data detailing how much money farmers in each county have received from the MILC program:

§ In the Capital Region, 546 New York dairy farmers have earned payments from the MILC program, for a total of $20.9 million since 2002. The average dairy farmer in the Capital Region received a payment of $34,978.

§ In the Central New York, 777 New York dairy farmers have earned payments from the MILC program, for a total of $23.7 million since 2002. The average Central New York dairy farmer received a payment of $30,768.

§ In the Rochester/Finger Lakes region, 565 New York dairy farmers have earned payments from the MILC program, for a total of $20.1 million since 2002. The average dairy farmer in the Rochester/Finger Lakes Region received a payment of $36,586.

§ In the Hudson Valley, 202 New York dairy farmers have earned payments from the MILC program, for a total of $5.2 million since 2002. The average dairy farmer in the Hudson Valley received a payment of $22,210.

§ In the Southern Tier, 1142 New York dairy farmers have earned payments from the MILC program, for a total of $33.8 million since 2002. The average dairy farmer in the Southern Tier received a payment of $30,179.

§ In Western New York, 906 New York dairy farmers have earned payments from the MILC program, for a total of $31 million since 2002. The average Western New York Region dairy farmer received a payment of $37,838.

§ In the North Country, 1,481 New York dairy farmers have earned payments from the MILC program, for a total of $45.2 million since 2002. The average North County dairy farmer received a payment of $30,633.

Schumer is a cosponsor of a bipartisan proposal to extend the current MILC program, without cuts, for two years and double the annual production cap to 4.8 million pounds—a plan that could mean millions more in relief for New York’s dairy farms. It is estimated that raising the cap from 2.4 million pounds to 4.8 million pounds would increase eligible participation by New York dairy farmers in the MILC program from 72% of production to 84% of production.

Last week, the Agriculture Committee was set to vote on a plan to cut agriculture spending by $3 billion, including a provision to extend the MILC program for two years at reduced levels. Along with other farm payments, the program would be cut 2.5%. In addition, the rate of compensation for low milk prices would be reduced.

Schumer today said he would leave no stone unturned until the program is renewed. He will work with a bipartisan coalition of Senators, including Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mark Dayton (D-MN), Arlen Spector (R-PA), and Norm Coleman (R-MN) and others to aggressively lobby the Agriculture committee to include an extension of the program in the Agriculture Budget Reconciliation Act, currently pending before the Committee. The Agriculture Budget Reconciliation bill is intended to resolve spending conflicts between the federal budget and the spending amounts allocated by Congress. Right now, the Committee is charged with cutting $3 billion from the 2006 budget.

In light of statements of support from by President George W. Bush during his reelection campaign, and a recent endorsement of the program’s extension by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, Schumer called on Johanns to take an active role in making sure Congress passes an extension. Last Thursday, Johanns said Administration is committed to the MILC program so Schumer today wrote to him, urging the Administration needs to be more aggressive in securing this provision in the Agriculture Budget Reconciliation Act.

"Large price swings remain a real threat to farmers,” Schumer said. “Now is the time to stand by our farmers, not gut the very programs that help them maintain their livelihood.”

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