Farm Bill Passes U.S. Senate

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(Host) The U.S. Senate gave its strong approval Wednesday afternoon to a farm bill that includes a key provision for Vermont’s dairy farmers. The legislation establishes a floor price for milk and it calls for payments to farmers whenever federal milk prices drop below the floor.

The plan replaces the Northeast Dairy Compact, which expired last October. It’s expected to cost taxpayers roughly $2 billion over a three-year period. Vermont dairy farmers will receive an estimated $40 million from the legislation.

Although the Senate farm bill must now be reconciled with a proposal in the U.S. House. Senator Jim Jeffords is confident that the conference committee will not try to strip the dairy provision from the final bill:

(Jeffords) “They know that all hell will break loose if they do that. With the upcoming elections, nobody wants that to happen.”

(Host) Jeffords says it’s likely that the legislation will be made retroactive to December 1. That means dairy farmers will be able to collect payments for the past few months when milk prices have been unusually low.

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