Welch Says He Hopes To Influence Dairy Policy In New Congress

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(Host) Congressman Peter Welch says he hopes to use his new assignment on the House Agriculture Committee as a way to push for a comprehensive reform of the federal dairy pricing system.

Welch says it will be difficult for many Vermont dairy farmers to stay in business unless a reform plan is adopted by Congress.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Because the Republicans now have a majority in the U.S. House, GOP leaders play a major role in determining committee assignments for all 435 members.

For the first time in his three terms in the House, Congressman Peter Welch will serve on the House Agriculture Committee.

Welch says he sought this assignment because the panel will play a critical role reviewing legislation to totally overhaul the country’s dairy pricing system. It’s a system that Welch says is very detrimental to many Vermont dairy farmers.

(Welch) "The Ag Committee is obviously going to be very helpful in trying to have dairy pricing reform, which we absolutely need for the sustainability of our dairy industry in Vermont. And sitting on that committee is going to give me a front row seat."

(Kinzel) Welch says the goal is to create a supply management system that rewards dairy farmers for meeting but not exceeding certain production levels/

(Welch) "What I’ve seen that gives me some promise is that the farmers have led an initiative to get away from the current system more into a supply management because they know it’s sustainable…. So that gives me a level of optimism that actually I haven’t had in the past."

(Kinzel) The House Agriculture Committee has a broad area of jurisdiction, including the expansion of broadband throughout the country.

Welch says he’ll be looking for ways to bring broadband to every part of the state in the next two years.

(Welch) "There may be permitting issues in terms of the regulatory process where we can be helpful. So I’m going to work closely with the Vermont administration to see what it is we can do that will be helpful to them in being successful for Vermonters."

(Kinzel) Welch has also been appointed to the House Democratic leadership team for this session.  He says this appointment will help him promote policies that will benefit the state of Vermont.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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