Vermont dairy farmers won’t get payments on time from a federal milk pricing program. The payments are stalled due to wrangling over federal funding.
The Milk Income Loss Contract provides payments to dairy farmers to offset low milk prices or high grain prices.
Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross says those MILC payments won’t be coming to farmers for about a month.
"That program is getting delayed – those payments will be delayed – something on the order of 3-4 weeks, we’re not entirely sure," Ross says.
The MILC program was part of the massive federal Farm Bill that expired last fall. The program was kept alive through separate legislation while Congress takes another try a writing a new Farm Bill.
The federal budget sequester took effect, further complicating the funding for MILC.
Ross says the delayed payments won’t have a widespread impact on the viability of Vermont dairy farms, but…."But I will tell you that every farm is its own unique business," Ross says. "And depending on when they hit the financial bump in the road, if it’s at the wrong time, it could be problematic."
In 2012, Vermont farmers received almost eleven million dollars in payments.
Ross expects farmers will receive the full amount of MILC payments due to them, but the timing of the payments is an open question.
And Ross doesn’t hide annoyance with the situation. "If you hear a little frustration in my voice, it’s because it’s there," Ross says. Because it’s very difficult for those of us who have to interface with these programs to understand what the future looks like."
The extension on the MILC program expires in September.