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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food And Drug Administration, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, as we wait for Members to come forward with amendments, I wish to talk about something that is happening down at the USDA right now. This morning, Secretary Vilsack is announcing changes to the Dairy Product Price Support Program. I wish to commend him for his diligence and his willingness to keep pushing on this.

Wisconsin is home to more dairy farms than any other State in the Union. We produce 2.1 billion pounds of milk each month. About half the State's $51 billion agriculture economy is directly tied to dairy. So when the dairy sector hurts, Wisconsin hurts. And I will say in no uncertain terms that the pain in dairy across America is very acute right now.

From January through April, the price of milk paid to dairy farmers has been about $4.80 per hundredweight below the cost of production. Dairy producers have lost $3.9 billion in equity in 5 months. At risk is the long-term stability of the industry, the Nation's milk production infrastructure, and thousands of rural communities.

With Senator Leahy and a number of our colleagues, we have pushed to confront these challenges. In the last farm bill, we extended the basic safety net for dairy producers, and we strengthened it with something called a ``feed cost adjuster.'' In the economic recovery bill we added credit to help producers survive.

At the same time, the Secretary has worked to boost exports and provide more dairy products for nutrition programs. All of these are critical steps. Together they reflect, literally, a billion-dollar effort to address a crisis that has hurt dairy producers in every corner of the country.

But over the past several weeks, in hearings and letters--and personal consultations I have been a part of--there is a growing appreciation that more needs to be done. Today the Secretary is taking the next step. For August through October, he is adjusting the Dairy Product Price Support Program in a way that will yield an estimated $243 million in revenue increases for dairy producers.

I commend our Secretary of Agriculture for working with intensity and persistence. I commend our President for appointing a Secretary of Agriculture who works with intensity and persistence. And I want to reassure dairy farmers all across America that, although we do not have all the answers, we are committed to pressing forward on their behalf.

I yield the floor.


Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, as we said before this morning, we intend to complete action on this bill Monday. We are here today to work with Senators if they have amendments. We need to move this bill along so we can complete all our work as we know we wish to do before the August recess. So if any Senators have amendments to the bill, they should come to the floor so they can be offered, debated, and considered.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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