Issue Position: Standing Up for Wisconsin Farmers - MILC (National Dairy Program)
I am proud to have helped create a new national dairy program as part of the 2002 Farm Bill - one that for the first time, created a more meaningful and credible safety net for small dairy farmers in Wisconsin and through the country. This new program - the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program - has moved the nation and Congress beyond the regional and divisive debate over dairy compacts.
As it was crafted to do, the MILC program literally has been a lifeline for thousands of Wisconsin dairy farmers during the price collapse of 2002 and early 2003. Without a doubt, we have prevented scores of agriculture bankruptcies because this program was in place when milk prices hit historic lows. Wisconsin dairy farm families have received nearly $414 million from the MILC program.
This program is set to expire on September 30, 2005, and we need to ensure that it stays in effect at least through 2007, as is the case with the remaining safety net programs authorized under the Farm Bill.
Recently, I introduced legislation, with bipartisan and multiregional support, to extend the MILC program through 2007. Our bill has support from Senators in regions that have historically feuded over national dairy policy, including New Englanders and Southerners.
As the Senate's wide bipartisan support of this bill shows, the MILC program has been a remarkable success. Now we need the President's continued support and determination to persuade the House of Representatives to join the Senate in supporting a two-year extension.
I was pleased to see the President's budget, which he submitted to Congress on Monday, February 7, includes a two-year MILC extension. That said, the budget resolution is only a framework, and it will take a continued effort from both Congress and the Administration to see that the extension is translated into law.