This week, agricultural leaders including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union will organize in Washington, DC to urge Congress to pass a five-year reauthorization of the Farm Bill before current law expires on September 30th. Congressman Bill Owens, a member of the House Agriculture Committee and a strong proponent of a long-term Farm Bill, issued a statement in support of these efforts.
"Good farm policy helps promote good farm jobs, and New York farmers can't afford for Congress to sit on its hands any longer," said Owens. "From low milk prices to natural disasters affecting feed and specialty crops, farmers have enough to worry about without Congress dropping the ball on the Farm Bill. We need to get this done."
The Milk Income Loss Contract program, or MILC program, which provides a critically important safety net to dairy farmers, began to provide coverage at a reduced level on September 1, the last month of the program's authorization under the 2008 Farm Bill. While the 2012 Farm Bill replaces the MILC program with a new insurance program for dairy farmers, an extension of current law would continue the MILC program at the reduced level that began on September 1. Under this lower level of coverage, New York dairy farmers will likely receive no payments under the MILC program for the remainder of the year. Consequently, producers will be left without a safety net at a time when feed prices have skyrocketed and farm milk prices are not sufficient to cover cost of production.
Earlier this year, Owens joined 79 of his Democratic and Republican colleagues in sending a letter to the leadership of the U.S. House of Representative urging the 2012 Farm Bill (H.R. 6083) to be brought to the floor for a vote.
The legislation, which renews expiring federal farm and food programs, is critical to New York agriculture. The House Farm Bill was approved with a strong bipartisan vote, 35-11, in Committee on June 11, 2012.