U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree today applaud an announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) that is has resumed previously suspended farm payments under the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC).
"We're tremendously pleased that Maine's farmers are again receiving the payments that are so critical to the success of their work," the Delegation said in a joint statement. "At a time when the national economy continues to recover, and when feed and fuel prices remain high while milk prices remain low, it's critical that dairy farmers have the predictability and certainty provided by the MILC safety net."
"With the high grain and fuel costs putting the financial squeeze on us, the MILC program is critical to helping us cover the costs of our most basic operations, like planting this summer's crops which become next winter's food for the cows," said Maine Dairy Industry Association President and dairy farmer, Dale Cole of Sidney. "The funds we receive are immediately turned around and sent to the local feed dealer, the vet, or go toward paying the seemingly ever-increasing diesel bill. While it won't be enough to solve all our problems, it will help us pay down some of our debt, and we truly appreciate the help the Congressional delegation has provided throughout the process."
FSA began a temporary suspension of FSA program payments in order to assess the impact of sequestration. Following the announcements, Senators Collins and King and Representatives Michaud and Pingree worked closely with the Maine Dairy Industry Association and USDA to find a way for payments to resume. The exact percentage of the reduction to direct payments will be determined close to the end of the fiscal year (October 2013) based on program sign ups and outlays.