The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC, 20250
April 13, 2010
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
We write to you out of concern about low dairy prices. In 2009, the dairy industry experienced its lowest prices in over 40 years. Early forecasts show prices improving through 20 I0, but low milk priccs have persistcd. At a time when many dairy farmers are struggling to recover from last year's historic low prices, milk prices are projected to remain below the cost of production. It is critical that the Department of Agriculture take quick action to respond to these disastrously low milk prices.
The USDA took several proactive steps to respond to low dairy prices last year. We believe the USDA should take similar actions this year, such as continuing the Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP), expediting DEIP payments and using the Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP) to bolster the falling prices for non-fat dried milk, barrel cheese, and cheddar block cheese. In 2009, the USDA helped increase market prices without causing product acquisitions by the Commodity Credit Corporation by temporarily raising support prices. In that instance, the USDA was able to help dairy farmers earn a higher market price for their products without having to purchase cheese at the increased prices. We believe that the USDA could take the same action today to temporarily increase market prices to aid dairy producers, without incurring the costs of a purchase.
Spring planting season is upon us and quick action is needed to provide dairy farmers with critical assistance. We ask that the USDA use all existing authorities to assist our struggling dairy producers.
Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Robert Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.)