WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) successfully added two amendments during the Agriculture Committee’s consideration of the 2007 Farm Bill that would help dairy farmers who are facing increased costs of production, which are driving farmers out of business, and get a fair price for their milk based on their input costs. Senator Casey worked closely with Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) on these amendments to help struggling dairy farmers.
“I have seen firsthand the struggles of dairy farmers. They are facing uphill battles when trying to make ends meet,” said Casey. “I am pleased the Senate Agriculture Committee recognized the importance of passing these amendments to the Farm Bill so that dairy farmers can be provided some with relief.”
“These two amendments will address the increasing costs of milk production and improve milk price reporting to help protect our dairy producers and their crucial industry,” Specter said. “I applaud Senator Casey and my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee for their efforts to establish a more stable and fair dairy pricing system.”
Senator Casey’s Mandatory Price Reporting and Marketing Transparency Amendment would help solve the problem of outdated dairy pricing. Currently, the system is extremely complex and there is not enough transparency for dairy farmers. The amendment, similar to what is used in livestock markets, would give farmers real-time reporting and data publication on a daily basis. Six months after passing the bill, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will collect and publish prices on all dairy products from all dairy processors. Small processors, those processors producing one million pounds of milk or less a year, are exempt.
Senator Casey also successfully added an amendment that requires the USDA to determine the current cost of feed and fuel for dairy farmers. The Farm-Level Feed and Fuel Index for Make Allowances Amendment would make sure that dairy farmers' true cost of production is considered before USDA allows dairy processors to lower prices paid to farmers in order to cover their own input costs. During today’s mark-up, Senator Casey also offered an amendment that was narrowly defeated which would have helped farmers with their feed adjustment.
The amendment would have given dairy farmers payment based on their feed prices to help them in business when milk prices are low and feed costs are rising. Under the federal dairy pricing system, milk prices lag behind rising input costs putting a strain on the small budgets of Pennsylvania’s family owned dairy farms.
Senator Casey also offered and withdrew an amendment to highlight the struggle of dairy farmers. Based off of the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act, introduced earlier this year by Senators Casey and Specter, the amendment would have strengthened producers’ prices and prohibited milk hauling and dairy processing costs from being charged to the dairy farmer. The amendment would have ensured that dairy farmers can get full price for their cost of production for their milk. Currently farmers in Northeastern Pennsylvania lose approximately $5 for every pound of milk they produce.