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Feingold, Koh. Press President to Keep Promise and Extend MILC

Location: Washington, DC


U.S. Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl have written to President Bush urging him to follow through on his commitment to Wisconsin farmers to extend the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program. During a campaign visit to Wausau, WI in 2004 the President supported extending the program. But since the House leadership failed to extend the program this year or last, Feingold and Kohl are calling on the President to once again voice his support of the program in hopes of making the extension a reality. The text of the letter is below:

Dear President Bush:

As you know from your visits to Wisconsin during last year's campaign, dairy farming and cheese production are extremely important to Wisconsin's economy. With the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program set to expire at the end of this month, we are writing to urge you to keep the commitment you made to dairy farmers on a visit to Wausau to extend the program.

As you probably know, the MILC program provides an important safety net for dairy farmers when the price of milk falls to low levels. There are more dairy farmers in Wisconsin than any other state and we can attest to the fact that there would be many fewer today if the MILC program had not been in place during the extended period of record low milk prices in 2002 and much of 2003. Fortunately, the situation in the dairy industry is not so dire now, but with the program set to expire September 30th, we urge you to take an active role in ensuring that your commitment to Wisconsin's dairy farmers is fulfilled. We were encouraged by your initial steps to extend the program, as promised, by putting an extension in your fiscal year 2006 budget. However, we believe that Wisconsin's dairy farmers reasonably expect you to do more to fulfill your campaign promise from last year.

As you probably know, last year the Senate included a bipartisan extension of the MILC program in one appropriations bill and Senate conferees even voted to include it as part of a conference report for another appropriations bill. Unfortunately, opposition from House leadership torpedoed both of these efforts that the appropriators worked so diligently on. Now, as then, active lobbying by you and your administration could provide the extra boost to make an extension of MILC a reality. On many occasions, your administration has shown itself to be capable of and successful at exerting pressure on Congress to act. To give just one recent example, when ratification of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was to be considered by the House, you and your administration brought your full weight to bear. The lobbying was intense and sustained from numerous cabinet secretaries and the Vice President, and even culminated with your pivotal personal visit to Capitol Hill.

We do not believe that an effort on the scale of that surrounding CAFTA would be needed to extend MILC. In fact, we suspect that, with a little push from your administration, an extension could be on your desk relatively quickly, considering the previous bipartisan support in the Senate. Therefore, we urge you to reach out to key congressional leaders, especially in the House, and work to fulfill the commitment you made in Wisconsin to our nation's hard-working dairy farmers and the rural communities they support.

Sincerely yours,

Russell D. Feingold, Herb Kohl
United States Senator, United States Senator

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