FRANKFORT, Ky., — Gov. Steve Beshear, D-Ky., has issued the following news release:
Gov. Steve Beshear today requested that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack utilize all available resources under his authority in an effort to save dairy farms and the jobs that these farms create.
Record low milk prices and high input costs are leading to devastating losses in dairy farming communities across the country.
"Dairy farmers across this nation – regardless of the size of their farm – are suffering," said Gov. Beshear. "The dairy industry is a vital component of our nation’s agricultural economy and provides a critical resource for American families."
Because this is an issue for dairy farmers nationwide, not just Kentucky, Gov. Beshear garnered the support of six other governors to co-sign the letter to Sec. Vilsack, including the governors of Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Guam, Oklahoma and Vermont.
The governors collectively asked for support of a federal bill that would adjust the overall payment rate for the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program.
This legislation, sponsored by Vermont Congressman Peter Welch, would adjust the MILC payment rate from 45 percent to 79 percent of the difference between the price of milk and the target price.
"This payment rate would more appropriately reflect the expenses that our dairy farmers face," stated the governors in their letter.
The governors applauded measures that Sec. Vilsack and the Obama Administration have previously taken to help the dairy industry through the Dairy Export Incentive Program and the Dairy Product Price Support Program.
Though these changes may provide relief in the coming months, the governors stressed the need for relief to offset losses already incurred in the last six months.
"As governors of dairy-producing states, we hear on a regular basis of the struggles of dairy farmers and call on you to provide additional relief to help offset the losses incurred since March 2009," stated the governors.
In a separate act today, Gov. Beshear and Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer announced the addition of three ex officio positions to the Kentucky Milk Commission: the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation President, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Milk Safety Branch Director and the University of Kentucky Regulatory Services Director.
These additions are vital in providing the Milk Commission additional expertise to guide changes that will improve the future for our dairy farmers.
Additionally, Gov. Beshear appointed the eight voting members of the Milk Commission, with Commissioner Farmer serving as chair of the Commission and a representative of the Kentucky Dairy Development Council acting as an ex officio.
More information about USDA’s dairy programs is available at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/dairy. More information about Kentucky’s dairy industry is available at http://www.kyagr.com/ or http://kydairy.org/default.aspx.