Leahy says MILC will remain in farm bill

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy says the Senate has revived the national farm bill and he’s confident policies important to Vermont will remain in it.

As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, the next hurdle for farmers will be the negotiations between the House and Senate on a compromise bill.

(Sneyd) Republicans have dropped their filibuster on the update to national agricultural policy.

The Senate has begun debating the bill and Leahy says there’s a 50-50 chance that a final vote will come before senators take their break for Christmas and New Year’s.

If he’s right, that would mean a conference committee would meet to work out differences during the weeks before Congress returns in January.

Leahy says he will be part of those talks as the senior Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

(Leahy) “In that regard, I think I’ll be able to protect such things as the MILC program that we put in, be able to protect provisions I put in for organic farming.”

(Sneyd) The bill expands the program known as MILC – or Milk Income Loss Contract.

Supporters say it will provide more money to farmers when there’s another downturn in the dairy industry.

The farm bill is also important to consumers, because it controls commodities that go to food shelves and the funding that supports Food Stamps.

And Leahy says the bill also will pay for environmental cleanup projects around Lake Champlain and along the Connecticut River.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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