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Letter To The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department Of Agriculture

Kohl, Feingold Urge Secretary Vilsack To Support Dairy Prices

Earlier this week, Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging him to take action to help support low dairy prices. Last year, the USDA took several proactive steps to respond to low dairy prices. The letter asks USDA to take similar actions this year to bolster low dairy prices, such as continuing the Dairy Export Incentive Program and increasing prices in the Dairy Product Price Support Program. The dairy industry continues to struggle with low prices despite early price forecasts for improved prices in 2010. Please find the text of the letter below.

April 13, 2010

The Honorable Tom Vilsack

Secretary of Agriculture

United States Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave. SW
Washington DC, 20250

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 2010, but low milk prices have persisted. 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 farn1ers with critical assistance. We ask that the USDA use all existing authorities to assist our struggling dairy producers.

Sincerely,

Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, U.S. Senator

Russ Feingold, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senator

Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator

Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, U.S. Senator

Ron Wyden, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator

Robert P. Casey, Jr., U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, U.S. Senator

Tim Johnson, U. S. Senator John Kerry, U. S. Senator

Joe Lieberman, U. S. Senator Jeff Merkley, U. S. Senator

Blanche Lincoln, U. S. Senator Michael Bennet, U. S. Senator

Al Franken, U. S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand, U. S. Senator

Ben Cardin, U. S. Senator Orrin Hatch, U.S. Senator


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