President Signs Farm Bill with Dairy Price Supports

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(Host) Senator James Jeffords is heralding the new farm bill, signed into law Monday by President Bush. Jeffords says the law provides Vermont dairy farmers with critical financial assistance for a number of years. The legislation allocates $50 billion for a variety of crop and commodity subsidies. That includes several billion dollars for dairy.

The dairy provision, which replaces the Northeast Dairy Compact, sets a floor price for milk whenever federal prices drop below the cost of production. While the Dairy Compact was financed by imposing a surcharge on milk processors, the new plan will be funded by taxpayers.

Jeffords, who favored a renewal of the Compact, says the farm bill still helps some dairy farmers stay in business:

(Jeffords) "It’s going to be very good for them ¿ they’re going to get payments from way back, they’re going to get much more money than they would. But philosophically, it’s very bothersome because the Compact, a good Vermont program, was a market-oriented program which wasn’t costing the federal government any money and it could have been expanded."

(Host) The farm bill provides payments to dairy farmers that will be retroactive to December 1. Jeffords says that’s important because milk prices were very low this winter.

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